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Common ground lacking in Common Core debate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When the issue of Common Core education standards is discussed at the State Capitol, there’s no common ground for opponents and proponents to work from and compromise. It’s all or nothing, and that causes turbulence for everyone.

Some lawmakers, who want to rewrite the standards, say they are responding to voters’ concerns about what is taught in elementary and secondary classrooms and what is measured, about the loss of local control and excessive testing.

Educators are feeling whipsawed by shifting standards, having to adjust lessons plans on an annual basis and the resulting lack of continuity and certainty in classroom instruction. They believe politics is getting in the way of a professional approach to devising instruction. They worry about what changes are ahead and the time it will take to implement them efficiently and effectively.

At issue is HB4014, under consideration in the current legislative season, which would prohibit the state board of education from using any Common Core standards in favor of developing the state’s own standards.

The repeal of Common Core in West Virginia has been an issue for two legislative sessions, ever since Republicans won the majority. Common Core, adopted in 2010, was an initiative developed by the National Governors Association to create nationwide standards to serve students in a transient society and to raise student achievement across the country. Students could move from one state to another, the thinking goes, but would have the same educational standards from one state to the next.

The standards are criticized by many lawmakers, parents and teachers as federal overreach, a violation of the 10th Amendment and just plain “wrong for West Virginia.”

Angela Summers, a prominent member of West Virginia Against Common Core, is blunt in her assessment…

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