Thursday, February 6, 2014
Patti Hammel gave a glowing endorsement of Common Core State Standards to the Georgetown County School Board this week.
“By and large it’s going to make us more competitive,” said Hammel, the school district’s executive director for Student Performance and Federal Programs.
According to its website, Common Core State Standards are a “single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade” in math and English that will be taught in every state.
The last three school years are scheduled to be fully implemented next year.
Opposition to Common Core has been growing. Representatives from groups such as S.C. Parents Involved in Education have been traveling around the state for about a year urging residents to get involved to stop Common Core before full implementation.
Opponents claim the program is another instance of the federal government sticking its nose into something that states should control.
Some call Common Core “the dumbing down of America.”
Hammel said the program was not imposed by the federal government, but was developed by governors and local teachers.
She said the Common Core standards are not that different than what South Carolina had before the program began, and they do not dictate a district’s curriculum.
Because all states had different standards, Hammel said South Carolina was sometimes compared unfavorably to North Carolina and Georgia.
Hammel said Common Core will lead to students becoming better readers and writers.
Opponents claim the new standards focus on non-fiction reading over the classics.
“We are not throwing away classic literature,” Hammel said.
Instead, Common Core is teaching kids how to use non-fictional texts in different ways, and better prepare them to read and comprehend textbooks and technical manuals as they get older, Hammel said.
The state Legislature is currently deciding whether to overturn Common Core, change it, or allow full implementation.
School Board member Arthur Lance asked Hammel what would happen if the state Legislature decides to repeal Common Core.
Hammel said the school district would be ready to go in another direction, but students will be better prepared, better readers and interact with textbooks better because of Common Core.
“Our writing skills are markedly improving,” she added.
While opponents urge residents to contact legislators to get Common Core overturned, School Board chairman Jim Dumm urged parents to contact legislators to keep the standards.