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Georgia is one of 45 states that have adopted a set of education standards called the Common Core. States developed the standards which aren’t federal mandates. But the Cobb County school board has been debating whether to invest in math materials aligned to the standards.
The board voted “no” on the adoption in April, against the recommendation of a committee of more than 100 Cobb teachers. Before the vote, district superintendent Michael Hinojosa implied some board members may not understand the limits of their authority.
“I think there’s some confusion that the board has the authority to adopt the Common Core,” Hinojosa said, “That’s way beyond your purview and authority. That is done by the state of Georgia and they had an agreement with many other states to do that.”
But some still seem to view the issue as primarily political. Board Chair Randy Scamihorn has said he wants to see whether the state legislature repeals the Common Core before the district invests in materials. Gov. Deal last month issued an executive order supporting the standards and repudiating any federal intrusion in Georgia education policy. But at a recent board meeting, Scamihorn was still unsure.
“An executive order doesn’t put to bed, ‘Are we going Common Core or are we not?’” Scamihorn said, “And if we’re not, then we’ve wasted $7.3 million.”
Cobb County Association of Educators president Connie Jackson says the board’s reluctance has educators worried.
“Teachers are very upset that they won’t have the materials that they need when school starts in six weeks,” she says, “And that’s really critical. It’s not about the politics of Common Core.”
Jackson says even if lawmakers repeal the standards, teachers could still use the recommended materials.
“Common Core aligns with the Georgia Performance Standards over 90%,” Jackson says, “So we’re not talking about a radical new curriculum, we’re not talking about a radical new group of standards.”
District officials have asked the board to consider other options, including buying the materials for just middle and high school students and asking the textbook companies to remove any references to the Common Core.
The board may vote on those options at a meeting next week.