August 5, 2013

Common Core endangers local control of education, says speaker

Charles Oliver
charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com

— Georgia leaders said recently the state will not take part in a standardized test tied to new and controversial education standards called Common Core.

But Tanya Ditty, a veteran educator and state director of Concerned Women for America, said Georgia should withdraw from Common Core completely.

“We applaud and appreciate this move of pulling Georgia out of the (testing) consortium. But we still have work to do. It’s still not state sovereignty, and that’s what we are working towards,” she said.

Ditty spoke last week to a lunch meeting of members of the Dalton Tea Party.

Gov. Nathan Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge decided to pull Georgia out of a 22-state consortium developing a test tied to the Common Core standards because of its cost. They said it could cost the state as much as $27 million annually to administer the test, more than double the state’s current testing budget.

But Ditty said the state has left the door open to working with other states to develop a test based on Common Core.

“This is an evolving story, but it is our understanding that there is a desire to perhaps bring a few states together and put together a test,” Ditty said. “That still is not sovereignty for Georgia. Georgia would still not have control over the test or the standards.”

Critics fear that the Common Core standards remove state and local control over education.

“What we want is Georgia parents, Georgia’s local school boards, Georgia’s taxpayers having a full seat at the table in developing any standards and tests,” Ditty said. “Removing us from (the testing consortium) is a step in the right direction. It does not get us out of Common Core. We don’t like the idea of being tied to other states. We don’t see how that is local control.”

The Common Core initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Federal Race to the Top grants reward states for adopting Common Core standards and tying their curriculums to those standards.

State Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, says he doesn’t see a strong sentiment in the General Assembly to remove Georgia from Common Core.

“There are a few legislators, I’m sure, who would like for us to withdraw. But I think that would be a bit premature,” said Dickson, a former Whitfield County Schools superintendent and member of the House Education Committee.

“I’ve had conversations with teachers in other states that are a little further along than we are, and the teachers, by and large, are very positive about what they have seen of Common Core and how it is being implemented,” he said. “It isn’t that we are changing what we are teaching, so much as we are getting more strategies on how we are teaching.”

Dickson said he believes states and local school systems will be able to tailor Common Core standards to their own needs.