EASLEY — Common Core has become an issue in education, going so far as to prompt four demonstrations statewide March 17 in the hopes of repealing South Carolina’s participation in the program. Not everyone sees Common Core as a bad thing, including the School District of Pickens County.
“Our entire economic future is at stake if we bind our children to a curriculum that’s no longer relevant,” said John Eby, Public Information Officer with SDPC. “Common Core is becoming more and more prevalent where education is concerned, even the SAT is moving to it.”
Eby is referring to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, one of two college admissions exams high school students are required to take for admission to college. According to Eby and SDPC, the SAT is going to be geared toward Common Core standards, making Common Core more important to students.
One of the difficulties with Common Core in its first four years is the difficulty of parents and students to adjust to a new curriculum.
“Some of the problem is the learning curve with the teachers themselves and a need to shift their teaching strategies,” Eby said. “Some of our educators have been teaching for many years and the change may be a difficult one, and it’s going to take time. There is a difference with Common Core and the parents and students are seeing that, and thinking in somewhat of an abstract way is important.”
One misconception of Common Core might be the standards portion, but SDPC doesn’t feel there’s much difference at all.
“The vast majority of what students are expected to do under our state standards already meets Common Core, so there’s really no change,” Eby explained. “And as for restrictions in the classroom on teachers, as long as what they’re using fits within the curriculum, everything is at the teacher’s discretion.”
Beyond what SDPC doesn’t see as issues with Common Core, the economics of changing directions now would be sizable.
“We have three years of training for teachers and staff already completed for Common Core. If we pulled it now that would be absurd,” Eby added. “Besides, what about the teachers graduating college this year or next? They’ve been taught based on Common Core and if it’s done away with, that’s at least four years of college paid for already.”
Common Core arose from a federal program known as Race to the Top, a program designed to help more funding find its way to schools. Among the guidelines of the program was the adoption of more rigorous standards to qualify for funding through the program.
From personal experience, Eby related a situation where Common Core would have helped him, having moved several times and changing school districts.
“With Common Core, someone who does move a lot, those kids will have an advantage I didn’t,” he said. “Instead of moving into a district and classes being taught a different way or the curriculum being different makes that transition a hard one. With Common Core, there’s a stability from district to district I didn’t have.”