House Speaker David Ralston’s ‘study’ committee concerning the educational standards program, Common Core, (officially called the Role of the Federal Government in Education Study Committee) met for more than 4 hours in Atlanta last Wednesday (July 30). The committee will have 3 all day meetings in various locations throughout the state in order to gain insight in to (and allow the public to respond to) Georgia’s Common Core program.
Guests were instructed not to outwardly verbalize their point of view and to refrain from clapping. Committee Co-Chairman, Representative Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, (also chair of the House Education Committee) reminded the audience that an officer was in attendance and that another officer was positioned down the hall.
The program has been criticized by conservatives as constituting a ‘federal over reach’ into Georgia’s school curriculum.
Speakers at the first meeting (which was deemed to be informational only-no public input) were, in large part, proponents of the program.
Georgia School Superintendent, Dr. John Barge, and his staff provided the committee with a history on why Common Core was adopted by the Georgia School Board and the federal monies involved in making that decision.
Barge made it clear that the federal Department of Education (DOE) did not initiate or request that Georgia adopt Common Core standards. Barge explained that Georgia decided to join other states in developing a standard in math and language studies in order to have educational uniformity between the states.
Barge took a great deal of time in order to explain to the committee the difference between a “standard” and “resource material.” He said that he believed that most people disagreed with the resource material.
Although the standard is uniform, school systems are free to select their own curriculum. However, most use the curriculum the state school board offers because their districts cannot afford to purchase a new curriculum.
The Superintendent added:
“Most of the people who have complained about the standards have never sat down and read the standards.”
Ralston, who also serves as State Representative of Fannin and Gilmer counties, addressed the committee members reminding them:
“The future of Georgia’s children is more important than any political issue.”
He then told them that the committee
“has no predestined determination.”
Hailing from North Georgia were committee appointees Sarah Ballew Welch, a teacher from Blue Ridge, State Representative Rick Jasperse (who represents Pickens County) and Hubert Parker of Ellijay.
State Director of Concerned Women for America, Tanya Ditty had this to say about Common Core:
“Common Core amounts to federal intrusion into local education. It shackles us as a state to a federal initiative because of the money attached to federal grants. When there is federal money involved, there are always strings attached, and the strings attached to this initiative are massive.”