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Education Chair: Common Core is Dead in W.Va.

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Education Chair: Common Core is Dead in W.Va.
By Ashton Marra, WV Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate were supposed to take up a bill Thursday to repeal the Common Core education standards and replace them with Math and English standards written some 20 years ago by California and Massachusetts.

The bill, however, was pushed back for the second day in a row, Thursday after the chamber’s Education chair spoke against it.

Senate Bill 524 would repeal Common Core education standards and replace them with Massachusetts English standards from 2001 and California math standards from 1997.

Common Core, however, was repealed by the West Virginia Board of Education in 2015. The board then took on a comprehensive review process, creating the West Virginia College and Career Ready standards that are being taught in West Virginia classrooms today.

"We’ve got to have a standard," Senate Education Chiar Kenny Mann said Thursday, "and all standards basically are pretty much the same.”

Kenny Mann is a sponsor of the repeal bill that was passed out of his committee Saturday without any real debate, but since, Mann said he’s studied the state’s current standards, the standards the bill would require, and the standards currently in place in other states and what he’s found is…

“There’s really not a difference in the math and the English in the standards out there now than what [West Virginia is] using currently," he said. 

During a floor speech in the chamber Thursday, Mann declared Common Core dead in West Virginia.

A funeral director outside of the statehouse, he presented the Senate President with a death certificate for Common Core, as a symbol, he said, that the standards the state currently has in place are not Common Core and do not need to be changed through legislation.

“I agree Common Core is dead and it should have been dead," Democratic Sen. Bob Plymale said on the floor Thursday. "I did not agree with it at the time, I do not agree with it now.

"I do agree that education lives by standards, they’ve had academic standards all the time that I can remember. Those standards are made by state people and that’s the way it should be,” Plymale added.

The argument over repealing Common Core has persisted at the statehouse despite actions taken by the West Virginia Board of Education. Senate Bill 524 would supersede the board’s decisions, though, and require the 20-year-old standards from two other states be implemented by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

"If [this bill] would go into play, our teachers would have a month or less to develop these standards and start teaching them by August. There is no way. There’s no way that could happen,” Mann said.

Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns moved to lay the bill over until Friday, the second time the motion was made in two days.

Mann said that’s because the bill needs more consideration and discussion before it’s put to a final vote, but realized members of his party are in favor of the changes contained within the legislation.

“There will be some people that may not be happy with what I said today, but you know, at the end of the day, I’m going to stand by what I said and for our public educators in West Virginia.”

Senate Bill 524 is scheduled to be on second reading in the chamber Friday — the amendment phase.

Mann said, however, it’s possible the bill will be sent to another committee, potentially Finance or Rules, which is chaired by Senate President Mitch Carmichael.