School board mulls options after voting down Common Core
by Megan Thornton
June 22, 2013 12:21 AM | 4413 views | 10 10 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA – Cobb School Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said he’s still digesting options for alternative math resources proposed by school district staff in the wake of the board’s rejection of $7.5 million worth of textbooks affiliated with the controversial Common Core state standards.

He said his primary concern is finding an affordable alternative now that the board voted 4-3 to reject the Common Core textbooks.

Meanwhile, two of three board members who voted to approve the book purchase maintain their all-or-nothing approach and wish to approve the entire original proposal.

“The taxpayers gave us money to spend on textbooks and money is there,” board member David Banks said. “Textbooks have never been an issue before and it shouldn’t be now.”

The board was given three new options, along with the original recommendation, by Amy Krause, the district’s chief academic officer, at last Wednesday’s work session. It is expected to take up the matter again on Thursday.

Aside from the original proposal, which includes all K-12 teacher resources, student textbooks and online access, Krause provided three alternatives:

 Option 2: Print resources for elementary school teachers, online resources for middle and high school teachers and student textbooks for high school only for a total of $3.7 million.

 Option 3: The most controversial alternative includes teacher resources for all teachers and print resources and textbooks with all Common Core references and icons removed for middle and high school students for a total of $6.3 million. According to the proposal, adjustments to pricing are necessary because of the customized editing of “practically every page.”

 Option 4: Teacher resources for K-12, middle and high school student print resources and textbooks printed as-is and workbooks for high school core courses and hard cover textbooks for advanced courses for a total of $4.2 million.

Both Scamihorn and board member Brad Wheeler said they wouldn’t be in favor of spending more to remove references to the standards, as proposed in Option 3.

“That’s not gonna happen,” Scamihorn said point-blank, adding that if there was a consensus by the board to remove the Common Core references and icons, he wouldn’t be in favor of spending money to do so.

“It’s the same book. It’s the same stuff,” Wheeler said. “If it’s going to cost more money to get the same thing and white out names, that’s kind of ridiculous.”

Scamihorn said he’s still considering the other alternatives, but is more inclined toward an entirely different option that would cost less than all of the other options and focus more on providing online resources. He noted that districts throughout the state, including Cherokee and Bartow counties, haven’t even bought any textbooks in the last few years and said it’s a matter of “changing expectations” for some in the school system.

Though district staff can make recommendations on textbook choices, a majority of the board can approve any combination of online and print materials.

Scamihorn said he feels state officials have not made a definitive decision to continue support of the Standards and said his hesitation in purchasing the materials is rooted in the possibility that the Legislature could vote in the next legislative session to remove Georgia from participation in Common Core and leave the school district saddled with more than $7 million in out-of-compliance textbooks.

“My primary issue is that (I want) the state to make a definitive decision — the governor, the state superintendent or the state board — and our community’s dilemma goes away,” Scamihorn said.

Scamihorn said his opinion is not based on the political controversy surrounding Common Core — a debate neither he nor board member Brad Wheeler said they want to take a side on.

Wheeler said framing the issue as a debate on the merits of Common Core isn’t a realistic representation of his argument. Opponents of Common Core, for instance, argue that the standards are not rigorous enough and that the whole program represents a “top down” approach in which the federal government replaces states and localities as the driver of what ends up being taught in the classroom. The Obama administration has tied its “Race to the Top” federal education funds to adherence to Common Core, which has added fuel to the controversy.

“I’m not pro or con with this issue, I think we need to be wise stewards of our tax money to get the materials we need for our students,” Wheeler said. “Math is math, that’s how I see it. I’m hoping we can find something to get to the kids that will work.”

Board member David Morgan, who said during the work session he wants to approve the original proposal, maintained that stance when contacted Friday.

“That’s my main priority, the initial recommendation,” Morgan said.

Scamihorn said he’s convinced the board is heading in the right direction toward making a compromise and will make a final decision on what combination of materials to purchase — and that materials will be purchased.

That was an issue Wheeler wanted to clarify, too.

“It’s not that we’re gonna cut these teachers and students off and give them nothing,” Wheeler said. “As a board, I hope we try to provide them with the best we can afford.”

Comments
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Can't Make it Up
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June 24, 2013
During the board meetings, David Morgan asked those who opposed the textbook adoption (i.e. Angelucci, Scamihorn, Stultz & Wheeler) to share just one "textbook" example to which they object.

All avoided the question. None provided an "objection" example regarding the materials within the textbooks.

They have made this a political stance and are doing so at the expense of children while simultaneously putting greater burdens on teachers who will now need to produce their own materials.
cobb_elementary
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June 23, 2013
Mr. Wheeler you've already left us with nothing. Even if you decide on resources print resources will not be distributed to schools until well into the first grading period. Teachers paid out of their dwindling salaries last year for math resources to teach the adopted standards. Now a handful of politically motivated voices are pushing to eliminate the adopted standards. I'm not buying or creating more resources out of my salary because this Board can't make a decision based upon what's best for the children instead of gettng political. This Board has cut my salary through paycuts, furlough days, and increased health insurance costs to the point that I can no longer pay my mortgage and utilities. I've had to take a second job just to cover the basics. I shouldn't have to take food from my children's mouths to buy math supplies for my students. Instead of worrying about getting re-elected by pandering to the rabble rousers, take care of our children and provide what they need for an education.
anonymous
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June 22, 2013
If Cobb's accreditation comes under scrutiny because of this Common Core nonsense I'm moving to Forsyth County. It's the last straw. 38 kids per classroom? Really???
CCSD Supporter
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June 24, 2013
Have you looked at Forsyth's online budget report?They are as bad off as Cobb is, financially. What makes you think it is so much better there?
Write our own
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June 22, 2013
How about option 4 which would be producing our own textbooks that do not include the Civil War, slavery, KKK, and leave out Obama as President twice. They could teach that corporations are people, that elections can be bought, that Muslims and Hispanics are inferior, and that victims of rape do not get pregnant.
rjsnh
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June 22, 2013
Absolutely the Dumbest Cobb County School Board since I have lived here. Common Core makes way too much sense for this crowd to understand.
Uh duh
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June 22, 2013
Let's put disclaimer stickers in the front of each math textbook informing parents that the math contained in the book is just theory and could potentially be harmful to your child's philosophical thought process. CCSD in no way supports nor opposes that 2 2=4 and that each student should decide for themselves. I mean it worked so great years ago with the Science textbooks.
BANDWAGON
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June 22, 2013
This is the epitome of CCSD. Every time a new strategy arises, CCSD jumps on the bandwagon!!! From strategies such as thinking maps to Essential Questions--all of which is a waste of time and massive amounts of money wasted to train teachers and educators. Show me the data that proves any of these strategies fosters a better classroom environment, makes students learn and keeps students in school to graduate in four years. Now Common Core is being thrown to the side. I see why teachers are just waiting until the moment for them to leave the system. Even one of the Area Asst Superintendent left CCSD this past week.

CCSD--WAKE UP!!! I am happy we relocated to Cherokee Co.
CCSD Supporter
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June 24, 2013
Boy are you in for a surprise in Cherokee. Their housing values fell 25% compared to Cobb's 18%. They have scant commercial property to bring in tax money so they depend completely on property taxes for school funding. Teacher moral is LOWER than that in Cobb. You will quickly feel the difference because they have so much less than Cobb does. And "yes" their school board makes controversial decisions too. Just ask the parents of the 1,000 students who started a charter school there.
Feuding Amuck
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June 22, 2013
Here we go again- the CCSD in another controversy, just like the creation stickers on textbooks a few years back. It will only cost the school system more money. I have talked with several math teachers in the Cherokee county system and they really like the Common Core math program. Instead of 11 units to rush through under the old ssytem, there are 9 units. And the Cherokee school system is highly respected in the state.

All the Cobb system seems to do since Col. Redden is argue and be embroiled in controversy. Keep it up and Cobb will take the bad headlines away from the Clayton, Dekalb, and Atlanta school systems.
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