Group objects to Common Core in schools

A group of concerned citizens met in Elkins this week to discuss the effects they fear the Common Core State Standards will have on our community’s schools.

The West Virginia Patriots group hosted the event, and welcomed the political group Constitutional Advocates, from Pleasants County, and their speaker Fred Dailey to give a presentation in opposition of Common Core and what they see as “nationalization of our education system.”

The event was also attended by several Randolph County school system employees and Randolph Board of Education member Ed Tyre.

“We are here tonight out of concern for the education system,” Mike House, a representative of the West Virginia Patriots, said during the meeting, held Tuesday at the Holiday Inn. “We are here to show everyone here that you can make a difference.”

The Common Core State Standards apply to grades K-12 in all public schools in 46 states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. According to the program’s official website, the standards “are rigorous, internationally-benchmarked (and) are designed to ensure that students leave school with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and careers.”

Advocates for Common Core state the need to improve declining U.S. student performance on an international level as the major impetus for the existence of the program. The Mountain State’s affiliation with the program is known as West Virginia’s Next Generation Content Standards and Objects and was adopted by the state Board of Education and signed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin in 2010.

“Our key message is to bring our state on the same-level playing field with students across the country,” explained Liza Gordeiro, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Education, in a phone interview with The Inter-Mountain Wednesday. “These rigorous standards raise the bar and are customized for West Virginia and individualized by local school districts, officials and teachers.”

Oppositional groups exist in nearly every state that has approved Common Core. Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota have not adopted Common Core; Virginia initially approved and then removed the program after heated opposition.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Dailey said the Constitutional Advocates oppose Common Core in all of its associations, and have started the movement West Virginians Against Common Core. Dailey said his group claims the program will not only nationalize education, but also “create a national data bank” on each student that would include the student’s name, address, academic performance and other data .

“I can’t speak for other states, but as for West Virginia, this is simply not the case,” Gordeiro said in response to those fears. “The only information that will be collected are things that have always been collected involving student academic records and possible basic medical information that is collected at every school across the state currently, such as allergies and learning disabilities.”

Dailey said one of the largest concerns opponents of Common Core have with the system is the lack of control local school districts have on the program, fearing many students will not receive the indivdualized attention that they require.

“This still concerns me,” said Robert Karnes, a small business owner who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “This is America. We get choices..”

Whether in support or opposed, many people left Tuesday’s meeting in search of more information on the issue.

“The Common Core Standards have never been presented to us,” Tyre said. “I would like to bring in the state officials and have them present their side of the story in a clear and thorough way.”

Gordeiro said Wednesday that was a possibility.

“While we have sent each superintendent in the state an intensive range of materials and information regarding the program to share with their respective boards and administrations, some may not have received them or have confusion.” she said. “We are always willing to try and work something out when people reach out to us.”

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