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Teachers want their turn to speak on Common Core

Parents had their say on Common Core during yesterday’s Academic Standards Review Commission meeting, but some teachers are questioning the Commission’s commitment to public input. 

The Commission said last month that it would hear from teachers in July, but when teachers e-mailed Commission staff, they were told that the opportunity for teacher comments was being pushed to September, during a school day. 

The Commission always meets from 1 to 5, so teachers would have to get time off from work in order to attend. 

Trey Ferguson, a math teacher at Leesville High School and Common Core supporter, was not happy with the change.

“I would have to take a half day in order to come and speak my opinion and experience,” he said. “I think it’s very limiting.” 

Ferguson sent a letter — signed by a group of teachers — in support of Common Core to the Commission prior to the meeting.

Another Leesville teacher, Kimberly Arwood, is also a parent, so she was able to speak at yesterday’s meeting. But she said the Commission needed to do more to include teachers. 

“I think that was a very poor choice,” Arwood said of the Commission’s decision to push back teacher comments. “I think they need to make extraordinary efforts to include teachers.” 

When I brought up the issue with Commission co-chair Tammy Covil, she said it was a good point.

“Perhaps we can work around that schedule with the understanding that it’s the summer time; it would probably be an ideal time for them to communicate,” she said.

She said that the Commission pushed back the date for teacher input because of difficulties with scheduling other stakeholders slated to give comment.

Near the end of the meeting, the Commission discussed the issue and decided it would try to hold regional meetings sooner than September for teachers around the state. 

Jerry Egolf (Photo Credit/Alex Granados)

The Commission also heard yesterday from Jerry Egolf, a member of the The North Carolina Education Coalition, who presented an alternative to Common Core called “The North Carolina Plan.” It emphasizes critical thinking and draws on standards from Minnesota, Massachusettes, Singapore and South Korea, among others. 

“We built standards that are clear, challenging, based on critical thinking,” he said. “They adhere to the best of who we are. They’re the best of the best or better than the best.” 

Egolf said “The North Carolina Plan,” would save the state about $67.8 million, in comparison to the Department of Public Instruction’s projected spending over five years to maintain Common Core.

The North Carolina Education Coalition doesn’t come up in a Google search.

Yesterday, the Commission also reviewed the progress of its working groups on identifying problems with NC Common Core and coming up with new standards to replace them. The Commission is slated to release preliminary recommendations next month. 

The Commission will meet again July 20.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.