Gov. Nathan Deal appeared before the West Cobb Business Association Tuesday where he defended his support for the Common Core educational standards.
Deal told a crowd of more than 200 people at the Lost Mountain Baptist Church off of Dallas Highway that he wants to preserve the state’s sovereignty to address local issues, but he is not willing to throw out programs that are appropriate for Georgia.
State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) has sponsored legislation to withdraw Georgia from Common Core and the national testing, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
When asked if he would sign the legislation if passed by Georgia’s General Assembly, Deal was noncommittal. He is looking forward to more of a discussion.
Deal said money has already been spent to train teachers to educate students based on the national standards outlined by Common Core.
If the state pulls out of the program, “we leave our children in the lurch,” Deal said.
Ligon told a crowd at a Common Core panel discussion in Marietta Saturday that implementing national standards is one of greatest shifts in education policy ever and it was done with little review in the public arena.
Deal voiced his disagreement with that description at Tuesday’s address in west Cobb, saying Common Core is not being imposed by the federal government and was adopted by the state school board and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“Some of the things (Ligon) is citing are just factually incorrect,” said Deal.
Deal said Georgia voluntarily applied for the Race to the Top grant to track if the state’s schools were improving based on test scores.
Deal said participation in the national program allows universities from all over the country to know what graduating from a Georgia high school means and that it is comparable to a different state’s diploma.
“Common Core assures these standards,” Deal said.
Deal also told the association that Common Core is 90 percent identical to what is being taught in Georgia classrooms now.
Deal said the debate about the merits of Common Core is based on rhetoric and misinformation, and “claims that the new requirements would be a dumbing down” are wrong.
Cobb School District
Angela Huff, chief of staff for the Cobb County School District, said she attended Tuesday’s event to see the governor, but thought the focus would be more on small businesses.
Cheryl Hungerford, deputy superintendent for the Cobb County School District, said she has attended WCBA meetings in the past because the business community and local schools are interconnected.
“The success of the business community is dependent on the success of the school system, and vice-versa,” Hungerford said.
As governor, Deal said he highlights the reasons why corporations should operate out of Georgia.
Deal told the association his goal is “to make Georgia the number one place to do business.”
Deal said the focus is often on “big guys” that relocate home offices and have hundreds of employees, but “small folks” are just as essential to the state’s economy and count towards the number of employed Georgia citizens.
Deal told the small business owners in the crowd, “It is important that you feel you are wanted and supported.”
The West Cobb Business Association has 185 members, and the normal attendance for their monthly luncheons is around 80 people, according to Julie Sheetz, vice president of the group.
Sheetz said the governor’s visit was planned three to four weeks ago.
The business association hosts 20 events per month, with at least two networking meetings each week, Sheetz said.
“We are a pretty active association,” Sheetz said.