Senate committee guts House Common Core bill

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Senate committee guts House Common Core bill
By Jeff Jenkins in News |WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate Education Committee scrapped the House of Delegates’ plan Monday to repeal the controversial Common Core education standards in West Virginia’s public schools.

The committee replaced language in the House-passed bill (HB2934) with its own language that calls for keeping Common Core in place while doing up to a two-year study of the concerns with public hearings to be hosted by the state Department of Education.

Common Core creates uniform standards for achievement but has been criticized as federalizing education. Critics have said there’s been confusion about the curriculum used to teach to the standards. The House bill called for the repeal of Common Core this coming July.

“We believe that would have been absolutely disastrous for our education system,” Senate Education Committee Chairman Dave Sypolt (R-Preston) told his committee Monday. “Although I will be the first to admit I believe we need to take a good, hard look at our standards and how we are assessing our children.”

The new language allows the state superintendent of schools and a newly-formed committee to look at the Common Core standards, take them out to the public and in Sypolt’s words “allow people to have their concerns addressed.” The committee would then come back to the legislature with recommendations on how the state should move forward. Common Core would be repealed if the legislature takes no action during the two-year period.

The change came after negotiations between Senate leaders and education officials including state School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano. He said Monday on MetroNews Talkline he was looking forward to the additional study.

“It’s to engage in a very thoughtful review process. I want to make certain we are doing it right, make certain we understand what is the problem with those standards and then adopt firmly our very clear West Virginia college and career ready standards that we can endorse 100 percent,” Martirano said.

The superintendent has supported the current standards but believes the state Department of Education should have done a better job with communication during the implementation of the standards, something that happened before he was hired last year.

“There are a lot of concerns that are unfounded. This is an opportunity to allow calmer minds to prevail and to be very clear what our standards are and what they aren’t,” Martirano said.

The House may not be willing to give up its position. The bill could be headed for a conference committee before this week’s final week of the legislative session expires Saturday night. House Speaker Tim Armstead said the House wants the standards to be redeveloped.

“There’s a lot of concern that we not continue to forge ahead on these standards that have given many, many House members and others, teachers and parents, concern about where we are in terms of Common Core,” Armstead said.

The bill next goes to the Senate Finance Committee.