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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory arrives for a celebration for evangelist Billy Graham North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory arrives for a celebration for evangelist Billy Graham's 95th birthday in Asheville, North Carolina Nov. 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Chris Keane)  

North Carolina Approves Bill To Tweak Common Core

North Carolina’s governor announced Wednesday that he will sign a bill that makes his state the latest to potentially modify the controversial Common Core education standards.

Gov. Pat McCrory says that he will sign off on a compromise measure that has both sides of the Common Core debate claiming a measure of victory. Foes of Common Core believe the way is cleared for the state to refashion its education standards, while supporters point out that the standards will remain in place for some time and could end up seeing few if any changes.

Under the bill, an appointed advisory commission with members chosen by the legislature, governor and state board of education will review the current Common Core-based math and English standards, and then make recommendations for changes.

However, one option for the advisory committee would be to make very few changes or retain the status quo entirely. Under an original version of the bill considered in the state House, the commission would have been forbidden from selecting Common Core as an option, but following resistance in the Senate, the final compromise bill keeps the controversial standards in play.

This backdoor possibility for Common Core’s retention allowed McCrory, a defender of Common Core who has sharply criticized efforts to repeal it, to claim in a statement that his signature did nothing to undo his past support.

“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” McCrory said. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”

Similarly, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, which has consistently supported Common Core against its detractors, has also assented to the bill. The group’s vice president of government affairs Gary Salmaido told The Washington Post that he believed the bill did not undermine the standards.

“This is not a repeal of the Common Core State Standards,” he said. The commission, he believes, will almost certainly keep huge portions of the curriculum in place, and where they don’t, he said he thinks the new standards will be more rigorous.

Opponents of Common Core, however, are also happy with the bill. Michael Speciale, a state House member, said the bill was sufficient to block what opponents have called a federal takeover of education.

“The bottom line is [Common Core is] a terrible system. There may be some good things about it, though, and this bill will allow them to use those things if they need to,” Speciale told the Associated Press.

McCrory’s signature will make North Carolina the fifth state this year to enact or enable changes to Common Core.

Indiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma have all chosen to replace the standards, while Missouri just approved a bill similar to North Carolina’s that will use the standards for two years but then replace them with new standards chosen by select panels of teachers and parents.

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