State BOE takes a stand against pending Common Core bill

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State BOE takes a stand against pending Common Core bill
By Sarah Plummer, Register-Herald Reporter

The State Board of Education passed a resolution Wednesday in opposition to the Common Core Bill, which, according to the resolution, “disrupts the accountability system” in West Virginia Schools.

The resolution states, House Bill 4014, “reflects the worst of the legislative process” and asks the Legislature to reject the bill. If they will not, the resolution urges Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin use his powers of veto.

Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, made a motion Wednesday to have the bill moved to third reading with right to amend. The bill will be voted on today.

The resolution states the bill attempts to usurp the State Board of Education’s authority to establish academic standards and assessments.

Moreover, the bill forces the board to use one specific vendor — ACT Aspire and ACT college entrance exam.

Although House Bill 4014 doesn’t specifically mention the vendor, its sister, bill Senate Bill 676, did.

The resolution notes that two ACT lobbyists were involved in the consideration of the bill.

A recent review by the Fordham Foundation at the request of State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano showed the Smarter Balanced assessment is most closely aligned with West Virginia’s standards and ACT Aspire is least aligned.

“Never in the history of public education in West Virginia has the legislature attempted to become so inappropriately involved in the process of selecting the standards and assessments that are the very basis of our education and accountability system,” concludes the resolution.

The State Board passed the resolution 7-1, with Thomas Campbell voting in opposition and newly appointed member F. Scott Rotruck not in attendance.

Campbell spoke out against the resolution and in favor of the Legislation.

He said the resolution creates divisiveness and legislators are within their power to pass such a bill.

Campbell said bill already represents a compromise and passing a resolution “sets up battle grounds.”

“I am voting no. I am voting hell no,” he said. “Our game plan in the West Virginia education system has been to consolidate, regulate and intimidate to force our teachers and students to perform at a uniform high level. We are near the top of the 50 states in cost per student, consolidation of schools, 1,000 pages of legislative code and 4,000 pages of board policy.”

Responding to Campbell, Lloyd Jackson noted that he does not see the resolution as challenging the constitutional authority of the Legislature.

“This is about standing up for what is right,” he said.

Member Gayle Manchin said she supports taking a stand.

“If we don’t send a message to the Legislature for the children of West Virginia, shame on us,” she said.

Beverly Kingery also spoke emphatically in favor of the resolution.

“Right now the teachers and students are fed up. They feel like they are jerked around year after year. It is time, as educators in this state, we stand up for teachers and students. Everybody is paying lip service to that, but no one seems to want to do it,” she said.

Board President Mike Green stressed that the state’s current standards were reviewed last year and vetted.

Gazette-Mail Reporter Ryan Quinn expressed opposition to the board considering the resolution, which was added to the agenda only Wednesday morning as an emergency item.

He expressed concern that a resolution in opposition to Legislation not yet passed does not constitute an emergency under the Open Meetings Act.