Common Core opposition comes before Caldwell County school board

Dec. 10, 2013 @ 04:49 PM

A parent of a homeschooled child voiced her opposition Monday night to the Common Core State Standards, curriculum standards implemented in North Carolina last year, and to Pearson’s PowerSchool, a program being used statewide to centralize student data.

The Common Core standards, which outline what students should know after completing each grade, have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia, but have drawn opposition from various groups, including some conservatives who fear a federal takeover of education. But Nicole Revels, whose 5-year-old son is homeschooled, is the first to voice opposition to the standards during the Caldwell County Board of Education’s public comment period.

Revels said at the board’s meeting Monday night she believed the standards were harmful to students, criticizing the fact that they were not field-tested before implementation (a point that has also been made by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has compared Common Core implementation to “rolling out a new drug with no testing and no idea of side effects”).

“I wonder why it is that we have felt the need to adopt these standards and curriculum that were never field-tested prior to their implementation in the public schools, that were created without the input of any K-3 teachers and were created without the input from a child developmental psychologist,” Revels said.

Revels asked the board to place an item on the next meeting’s agenda calling for discussion and a vote on the school’s curriculum adoption policy. The school board should use North Carolina’s emphasis on local control for public education to reject the Common Core, Revels said.

Other Common Core opponents have made the same argument, saying school boards in local-control states may have legal authority to drop the standards.

Revels also voiced opposition to Pearson’s PowerSchool, a computer program the state started using this fall that stores student data, including information on attendance, grades, class schedules and test scores.

She said there is no “real benefit” and plenty of risk to storing student information in a national program.

The group Stop Common Core N.C. has also voiced opposition to the PowerSchool program.

Caldwell County Superintendent Steve Stone and members of the school board did not address Revels’ comments during the board meeting. After the meeting, Stone said Revels was “playing fast and loose with definitions” and that local control means teachers can choose the methods with which they implement the Common Core, but that the district was required to adopt the standards.

Stone said there would not be a vote on the curriculum policy and that rejecting the Common Core, which he described as a program with “rigor and relevance,” would fail Caldwell County students.

“I believe in the Common Core,” he said. “I understand there’s some organizational resistance from some groups ... but it will generate results from kids.”

The school board also received a report on its annual audit from Boggs, Crump & Brown, an accounting group based in Morganton.

CPA Robert Brown said the board “continues to be in good financial health,” with a general fund balance totaling $7,721,104 — an increase of $188,878 from the previous year.