Common Core town halls to start Tuesday
By Samuel Speciale, The Charleston Gazette-Mail
West Virginia school officials this week will conduct the first of seven regional town hall meetings as part of their ongoing review of the state Department of Education’s embattled math and English standards.
The series of town hall meetings will start Tuesday in Morgantown at West Virginia University’s Mountainlair student union.
The standards have come under fire in recent years for being based on Common Core, which has prompted the department to launch a review to determine what, if any, changes need to be made.
The meetings will be used in conjunction with a review website that state Superintendent Michael Martirano has called a “statewide town hall.” On that website, each of West Virginia’s 900 math and English standards can be read and commented on.
By making each standard available for review and comment, department officials hope problems with individual standards, if they exist, can be identified.
The need for such a review was prompted by recent legislative attempts to repeal the standards over their ties to Common Core, which is a set of grade-level expectations in math and English that were created to make sure public school students across the country get the same basic education.
Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the standards were adopted in 2010 by the West Virginia Board of Education. They were renamed the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.
State Senate and House Republicans, who claim Common Core is being used by the federal government to take over local schools, have tried to repeal the standards, but their attempts were thwarted when the principle bill failed to pass a conference committee on the last day of the 2015 session.
The department hopes their review will restore confidence in the standards and quell future legislative intervention.
The review’s public commenting period will be open until Sept. 30, after which responses will be analyzed before being turned over to committees that will recommend a course of action to the school board.
West Virginia University researchers are helping with the review and will analyze all public feedback.
In addition to Tuesday’s meeting in Morgantown, there are meetings scheduled to take place in Huntington on Thursday, South Charleston on Sept. 10, Athens on Sept. 17, Mt. Gay on Sept. 20, Wheeling on Sept. 22 and Shepherdstown on Sept. 29. All meetings will start at 6:30 p.m., except for those in Athens and Mt. Gay, which will start at 5:30 p.m.
Each meeting will last 90 minutes and will open with a brief informational session. The remaining time will be dedicated to answering questions submitted by those in attendance. Questions must be submitted in writing at the start of the meeting.
Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said officials will do their best to answer all questions at the meetings. Should time run out, all questions will be answered and posted on the review website.
She also said all feedback gathered at the meetings will be given to the review committees for consideration.
For those who cannot attend a town hall meeting, comments may be submitted on the review website, which can be accessed by going to www.wvacademicspotlight.statestandards.org.
Common Core was initially adopted by 46 states. Since then, at least 12 states have attempted to repeal the standards. Only three states have withdrawn.