In a clear signal that the Common Core State Standards are in hot water in South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley told a meeting of a local Republican Party women’s club that she was determined to ditch the standards this year because, she said, “We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.”
SC is a high-poverty state (bottom quarter, around 10th most impoverished), and thus, historically and currently, people incorrectly use metrics that reflect that poverty to bash the state as having “bad” education. [SC has a poverty problem, reflected in our schools.]
Should SC dump CC? Of course, as all states should.
But as is typical, political leaders have all the wrong reasons (Haley playing to her rightwing, Tea Party base in the state).
In a high-poverty state such as SC—that will now be on our 4th iteration of standards and testing (none of which have “worked” apparently)—the incredible COST of implementing CC and the new tests is unpardonable.
Dump CC, SC, but do so as a commitment to being better stewards of public funds and as a shift to addressing the poverty scar that plagues the state, the children, and the schools.
Haley is in candidate mode, and she has chosen education as a key focus of her reelection campaign, possibly as a pre-emptive strike against her democratic opponent. This stand against CC is mis-guided in the reasons, but remains the right action in SC.
The irony of Haley’s comments lies in her swipe at California: “‘We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.'” While Haley is triggering the conservative caricature of the “left coast,” within her populist bating is a kernel of truth.
California has dedicated at least 1.2 billion dollars of public funds to implementing CC (more funding will be required). This pattern of millions and billions of tax payers’ dollars dedicated to new standards and new tests is being replicated, almost silently, across the U.S.
Thus, SC does not, in fact, want to educate our children as California does—spending millions on an accountability system that has already failed the state for thirty years.
Valerie Strauss reports, for example, that Maryland needs $100 million in funding for online testing related to CC.
Education reform built on an accountability system driven by (perpetually new) standards and (perpetually new) tests has never worked; it is the wrong approach to reform.
SC should drop CC and the new tests; SC should end similar investments in charter schools, teacher evaluation and merit pay, and a wide array of policies already tried time and again without success.
Haley’s motivation (reelection) and her reasons (Tea Party misinformation about CC) are both deeply misguided, but the best first step SC could make for a new era of genuine school reform is ditch CC.
And then, start anew by admitting SC has a poverty problem, and having the political will to design social and educational policy that addresses directly that real problem.