After parents and community members petitioned the board with their concerns over the national education standards, Common Core, the board voted 4-3 to reject buying textbooks that aligned with the standards.
Many Cobb County parents feared the standards represented an intrusion of the federal government into their local classrooms. Attached to acceptance of Common Core was the issuance of millions of dollars in federal government Race to the Top funds, and with that money will come strings controlled by bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Education, they argued.
Board members debated for hours over whether or not to buy 73,000 math materials, which included textbooks, online resources and booklets for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The resources were to be purchased with special-purpose local-option sales tax funds.
Members of the board were hesitant as to the efficiency and effectiveness the Common Core standards would bring to the county’s already high-achieving schools.
Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn, along with members Brad Wheeler, Kathleen Angelucci and Tim Stultz, voted against the purchase.
Board member Scott Sweeney said he had “serious, serious concerns” about the implementation of Common Core Standards and the potential intrusion of the federal government in local classrooms, but voted in favor of the purchase.
Common Core adopted by state in 2010
In 2010, under former Gov. Sonny Perdue, the state Board of Education voted to adopt Common Core, which attempts to create a consistent set of baseline standards across the country, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, corestandards.org.
Perdue was one of the leading advocates for the initiative, said Matt Cardoza, Georgia Department of Education spokesman.
Georgia was one of 45 states that initially adopted the Common Core Standards. Five states –– Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Nebraska and Minnesota –– did not adopt Common Core, according corestandards.org.
States such as Indiana and Alabama have been considering withdrawing from the program.
In the fall of 2012, the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards for math and English language arts were implemented in Georgia classrooms, replacing the state’s own Georgia Performance Standards.
Parents, lawmakers and board members were unsure how the new Core Standards compared to the Georgia Performance Standards.
In June, the State Committee of the Georgia Republican Party unanimously adopted a resolution that requested the state withdraw from participating in Common Core and the national tests associated with them.
Many felt the system lacked the proof that it was an effective set of standards that would enable Georgia to compare itself nationally and internationally, Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, told the MDJ in October.
Gov. Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge formally pulled out of the Common Core testing mechanism in July.
In August, Deal requested that the state Board of Education do an evaluation to compare the new Common Core Standards in math and English to the former Georgia Performance Standards, which were in place before Common Core was implemented in 2012.
The state Board met in October to begin discussing how to implement Deal’s requests.