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Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 12:00pm

Common Core Review Underway

The state school board released a draft plan [today/Thursday] for reviewing the Common Core curriculum. The review follows persistent complaints that the curriculum dictates what and how to teach Georgia's 1.6 million school children. Some state school officials say the review probably won’t put an end to the doubts.

Governor Nathan Deal asked the state board to review the Common Core after some in the GOP insisted Washington is mandating what materials teachers use.

Deal, also a Republican, has said that’s not the case. The Common Core is a set of concepts students need to master by graduation. And Georgia and 45 other states adopted it voluntarily.

But nonetheless, Deal requested the review. And since then, School Superintendent John Barge has announced he will run against Deal in next year’s gubernatorial election.

Education leaders say the review will include public meetings and may take a year. Speaking at a meeting Thursday of the state school board, Deputy State Superintendent Martha Reichrath said questions will likely remain.

“We can certainly go about this. We will work with you guys and we will do the best we can,” she told the board. “But I project to you, we will still have those who don’t agree. They just don’t agree on literature – informational literature or classical literature.”

In an interview after the meeting, she said that’s partly due to regional differences in Georgia.

Officials representing teachers say scrapping the Common Core would be disastrous because of all the work that went into implementing it.

Indeed, the people charged with using the standards – teachers — have no problem with it.

Tim Callahan is with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which represents 84,000 teachers. He says the Common Core is similar to the curriculum Georgia used before it. And he says it would be a mistake to scrap the Common Core for political reasons.

“If you look at a kindergarten class, I doubt you can pick out the Republicans and the Democrats,” he said.

He also said any decision about the curriculum needs to be made with great deliberation.

“One of the things that educators rightfully grow frustrated with, is they no sooner get squared away on one set of policies, programs and procedures, and as soon as they start to get comfortable, someone somewhere blows the whistle and they have to start all over again,” he said.

The state school board will release more details about the review, including the public meetings on the Common Core, in November.