Amanda Pasdon: W.Va. spends too much, is too centralized not to take another look at Common Core
The education provided to our West Virginia students has correctly received attention and action from this session of the West Virginia Legislature. Bipartisan support has been given to bills that are intended to help our students achieve success. Legislators have worked long hours and held public hearings in an attempt to learn from parents, teachers, administrators and employers about the needs and priorities of our public education infrastructure.
In my role as Chairman of the Education Committee of the West Virginia House of Delegates, I have initiated a listening tour to be sure that maximum public input is available to the Legislature. A common theme coming from teachers, parents and administrators is that our West Virginia Next Generation Standards must be revisited, more local control of education decisions is needed and teachers should be trusted to teach in ways that meet students’ needs.
In questioning the Common Core and West Virginia Next Generation Education Standards, West Virginia has become the 25th state to suggest slowing down, evaluating and, if necessary, repealing these education standards. To be specific, 25 states, to date, either did not adopt these controversial standards or have revisited or revised their participation in the Common Core Education Standards.
The West Virginia Legislature is seeking to call a “stand down” on the implementation of Common Core in West Virginia so that we can ensure our schools are following standards that promote high achievement, place our state on a pathway to have the best schools in the nation and, most importantly, work. Unfortunately, the reaction from the West Virginia Department of Education and Board of Education has been lukewarm. This is especially worth noting considering I have met with them and asked for their help and input in getting the standards right.
During these meetings I have repeatedly asked why the standards should be upheld and for data showing that these standards improve student achievement. The response is that our state has spent a great deal of money on the Common Core standards and we should stay the course to avoid more cost. My questions are: If the Common Core truly works, what is your plan to achieve better results? What is the cost? When is improvement expected?
Avoiding unnecessary cost is important, but West Virginia invests heavily in education. Relative to our population, our state is sixth in the nation in the percent of total state and local spending on education. Sixth in the nation in spending. As for our results? West Virginia students score 46th in math when ranked according to NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) rankings. The problem does not lie with our students, our teachers or the amount of money spent on education. It lies with standards that dictate the curriculum in such a way that our children are not learning. A strong complaint is related to common core math standards. Not surprisingly, some of our top rated local school systems have begun asking for an exemption from adopting the Common Core math standards.
I urge the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education to join with the West Virginia Legislature and work together to address the on-going crisis in educational achievement. We seek to work collaboratively to tackle problems and implement changes that our students, parents, teachers and school administrators can appreciate and respect. Our children are society’s most cherished hope for a bright future. A great education is the foundation and chief cornerstone for those whom we seek to serve.
Delegate Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia, is chairwoman of the House Education Committee. -