By JOSEYLN KING
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING — Delegate Pat McGeehan says West Virginia’s current method of educating its students is “confused and convoluted,” and taxpayers footing the bill should have more of a say in what is being taught in the state’s classrooms.
McGeehan, R-Hancock, has reintroduced legislation to eliminate Common Core education standards in West Virginia, as well as the state’s current form of standardized testing of students.
House Bill 2309 — if passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice — would direct the West Virginia Board of Education to discontinue implementation of the West Virginia Next Generation Standards, most often referred to as the “Common Core”curriculum. The standards have been in place since 2010.
Additionally, the measure would end administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessments in West Virginia, a standardized testing program started just last year in West Virginia.
The 2017 measure to eliminate Common Core in the state is similar to a 2016 bill that passed the Legislature, but was vetoed near the end of the regular session by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. In 2015, the Legislature also considered a bill to eliminate Common Core.
What is different this year is that lawmakers plan to consider the bill early on in the 60-day regular session, according to McGeehan. A simple majority of votes in the 100-member House is needed to override a gubernatorial veto and if Justice ultimately vetoes a Common Core repeal, McGeehan believes there would be enough time to override the veto before the session ends.
It’s not a given that Justice, a Democrat, would veto a bill to eliminate Common Core. In his State of the State address on Feb. 8, he called for eliminating Smarter Balanced testing in West Virginia and replacing it with ACT college aptitude testing.
“Common Core is a confused and convoluted set of standards and curriculum forced upon us by the U.S. Department of Education,” McGeehan said. “This policy had the effect of regression in setting back our children’s education for years, and it has already done irreparable damage to our elementary and middle school children.
“Common Core has completely disavowed classical education, and eradicated classical mathematic instruction,” McGeehan continued. “Parents no longer can help students with their homework, because they can’t understand the convoluted math that is Common Core. We have to get back to classical education and local control of education based on the experience and tradition we know that works.”
If approved, the bill would become effective July 1, giving school districts about six to eight weeks to craft new curriculum standards in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year.
“It gives us plenty of time to adjust to what will come next based on curriculum. The textbooks already exist and teachers are already well-acquainted with traditional teaching methods,” McGeehan said. “The curriculum should focus on the customers — the children and their parents who foot the bills and have no say in what is being taught. They are paying the bills for a multitude of bureaucrats in Charleston and for confused and convoluted policies that set their children back. They have no say. Education is no longer at a local level, and this is violating an American tradition. Our education is essentially being planned from the state Capitol. … In America, education has always been local.”
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