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Delegate Butler: Battle for a world class education for W. Va. students

Column by Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason:

Delegate Jim Butler
Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason

On Friday the West Virginia House of Delegates took an important step to ensure that the standards which determine what our students need to learn are of the best possible quality.

The turmoil caused by the adoption of the Common Core Standards in 2010 has not improved over the last six years. The Common Core math standards’ unorthodox methods continue to disrupt classroom instruction and prevent parents from helping their children with homework. In English, the reduction of quality literature read by students leaves them ignorant of the great literary works that have shaped our nation.

Reacting to the groundswell of negative public opinion against the Common Core and pressure from a state Legislature determined to side with frustrated constituents, the State Board of Education embarked upon a tour of the state last year to gather input on the Common Core to ascertain if any corrections were necessary.

Despite the fact that polling shows 60 percent of West Virginians familiar with Common Core hold a negative opinion of it, the state board’s review found overwhelming support for them. In their opinion, the people were just fine with the way they were written, and only made very minor changes before giving them a new name – the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards.

The re-branding of Common Core as the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards was so obvious that it didn’t take long for newspapers to recognize the “new” standards were the same as Common Core.

Legislative leaders met with members of the State Board of Education in late fall of 2015 to intercede on the people’s behalf and provide input on the standards before the Board voted to readopted the Common Core. That request, however, was rejected. Common Core was officially readopted as the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards in December 2015.

On Thursday, amendments were passed on a House bill which recognizes that the “new” standards are still mostly Common Core and establishes a process to correct the problematic standards.

A temporary Academic Standards Evaluation Panel composed of educational professionals with experience in reviewing standards will make limited revisions using empirical research and data to ensure alignment to standards with a proven track record of consistent high performance in student achievement.

Once the revisions are completed, the standards will be presented to the State Board of Education and implemented in a way that allows for a smooth transition into classrooms.

Passage of House Bill 4014 is a win for West Virginia. Great standards set high expectations and allow teachers the freedom to select the instructional methods that work best for their students. Students win because they are better prepared for advancing their education or securing high-paying careers. As a state, West Virginia wins because better standards result in a well-educated workforce to drive the economy which we are all working toward.

The final version of the bill passed the House of Delegates 73-20 Friday afternoon. With our passage of this crucial bill, the future of West Virginia’s education, as it pertains to standards, will be in the hands of the State Senate.

— Delegate Jim Butler, a Republican from Mason County, is a member of the House of Delegates representing the 14th District, which covers portions of Mason and Putnam counties.

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