North Carolina is the latest state to be consumed by the battle over Common Core, as the state’s House and Senate have both approved separate bills that would rebrand the multi-state educational standards and order a review for potential changes.
The state House approved a bill to repeal and replace the standards Wednesday in a 78-39 vote, just days after a bill was introduced and rapidly advanced through committee.
Under the House bill, Common Core will not immediately be halted, but will be left in place until a newly created advisory group proposes modified standards to the state educational board, with a plan of implementing those in the 2016-17 school year.
The state Senate, meanwhile, approved its own version of a Common Core repeal early Thursday with a 33-15 vote. The bills are similar, with a primary difference being the size of the appointed advisory group that will repeal the standards.
Lt. Governor Dan Forest, an opponent of Common Core who has pushed the repeal process, told The Daily Caller News Foundation he expected the two houses will be able to quickly reconcile their bills.
While the two bills have advanced very quickly through the state legislature, they have been in the works for some time. The state created a study committee last year to review Common Core, whose recommendations were issued in April. Since then, Forest said legislators has worked “fast and furious” to craft a workable bill.
If and when the two bills are reconciled, the repeal may pit North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended the Common Core standards, against his lieutenant governor (who is elected separately) as well as the rank and file legislators of his own party, who are voting overwhelmingly against them.
McCrory hasn’t yet said how he feels about the recently introduced bills.
Forest said he hoped the governor would choose to sign a repeal bill rather than veto it.
“We both believe that North Carolina should have the highest possible standards, and this bill [does that],” Forest said. Nonetheless, he said that if McCrory vetoed the bill, the legislature would be able to overcome it.
“They’ve done that in the past. They have a majority that is sufficient enough for an override. I’m hopeful it won’t have to happen, though,” he said.
Bob Luebke, a senior policy analyst at the anti-Common Core Civitas Institute, was also nearly certain a bill will be implemented whether the governor wants it or not.
“The bill will pass, eventually,” he told TheDCNF. “Barring any last minutes surprise, I’m confident it’s gonna pass.”
Under the legislation, it is possible that some pieces of Common Core could remain if the appointed committee believes it worthwhile. This sets the bill apart from Oklahoma, where a bill on the governor’s desk would mandate that new standards not resemble Common Core. Forest, however, was confident that the end result will be significantly different and have higher standards.
“[Common Core] standards are not as rigorous as everybody says,” he said. “Everybody just assumes that they are.” He said he particularly hoped the state would implement significantly tougher standards for high school math.
Repealing Common Core could imperil the state’s receipt of over $400 million from the federal government in Race to the Top funds, which were doled out to certain states in part based on their willingness to adopt the standards. Forest said, however, that in his view the funds came without strings attached, and while the federal government might complain they would have no legal grounds to demand the money’s return.
Opposition to the bills is emanating primarily from legislative Democrats, as well as the state teacher’s union and superintendent of public instruction June Atkinson, a Democrat.
State Rep. Marcus Brandon criticized the cost of changing standards and said North Carolina had a poor track record in controlling its own education standards, according to WRAL.com.
“We’re walking around like we’re big, bad North Carolina that has done this better than anyone else. Quite the contrary,” Brandon said. “Now, we’re going to say we’re going to provide all the professional development, we’re going to provide all the curriculum, we’re going to provide all these things … because we’re big, bad North Carolina and Obama can’t tell us what to do. This is not smart policy.”
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