Cole calls Common Core a 'non-starter,' says it's time to start over

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Cole calls Common Core a 'non-starter,' says it's time to start over
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate President Bill Cole says the Common Core teaching standards will be repealed during next year’s [legislative] session.

Cole (R-Mercer) called the controversial standards, which deal with Math, English/Language Arts, a “non-starter” during a Wednesday appearance on MetroNews ‘Talkline.’

"We have too many people in the state, in the Legislature, both parties, people who work in the school systems and I just hear horror story after horror story after horror story,” Cole said.

Cole and House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) sent a letter to a National Governors Association Group Tuesday revoking their involvement in Common Core. In 2009, then-Sen. President Earl Ray Tomblin and then-House Speaker Rick Thompson were among those to sign the agreement with NGA’s Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Common Core hasn’t worked since the agreement was signed, Cole said.

“So six years ago we were virtually at the last in student achievement in West Virginia and six years later after all of this Common Core nonsense we are still at the bottom,” he said.

State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano came on board just last year and had to fight for the life of Common Core during his first legislative session. He promised an additional public comment period with changes to Common Core if necessary. The public comment period kicked off earlier this summer with a special website. (See Martirano statement below)

Cole is scheduled to meet with Martirano next week. It’s time to get back to the basics, Cole said.

“It needs to be as simple as putting a teacher in the classroom, pay he or she what they should be paid, and let them teach,” Cole said.

The Common Core standards called Next Generation Content Standards in West Virginia were developed by state teachers. The state began administering Smarter Balanced Assessment standardized testing this past spring. There were several parents who spoke to state lawmakers at a June meeting about their concerns.

Tyler County Board of Education President Bonnie Henthorn attended, but presented as a parent who opposes Common Core. She expressed concerns over standardized testing data being released. She also said Common Core puts unnecessary pressures on children, as she described a picture of a girl crying over her homework.

“Looking at pictures like this, and reading about China and Korea, who have large suicide rates because of educational pressures is very scary,” Henthorn at the meeting. “Is this what we want for West Virginia children? We already have a lot of drugs; do we want suicide too?”

Martirano has spent a lot of time in recent months trying to explain the differences between the standards and curriculum and assuring parents personal information about their children has not fallen in the wrong hands.

It’s time to start all over, Cole said.

“Call em what you want to—our West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards–I think commonsense is what’s left out of this process and we need to reintroduce it,” Cole said.

State School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano released the following statement Wednesday:

“As parents, teachers and community members, we can all agree education standards are essential for our students. While I firmly believe the West Virginia Next Generation Standards will promote high achievement within our schools, I also acknowledge there is room to strengthen the standards to ensure that all of our young people are prepared for college and future careers. The West Virginia Board of Education and West Virginia Department of Education are currently partnering with West Virginia University to perform a community evaluation of our West Virginia Next Generation Standards. I encourage all teachers, parents and stakeholders, and specifically those who think our standards fall short, to participate in the Academic Spotlight community review to provide specific input on how we can best strengthen our standards. We fully intend to address all concerns revealed during the community review and do what is best for the children of West Virginia.”