Buncombe School Board Mtg Was Common Core Event?

I received word yesterday that at the Buncombe County School Board meeting, a two-hour work session was included. This work session was on Common Core.  According to documents and reports of what was presented, it appears this work session was not labeled as being Common Core nor was it publicized so that parents could attend.

Upon hearing this, I checked the Buncombe County Schools website and found a simple meeting announcement on the left hand side with no topics listed. Today, that Board meeting announcement has been taken down.

The Agenda

The agenda did not distinguish the controversial and debate heated Common Core as being the work session topic. In fact, the agenda handed out didn’t mention a Common Core work group, but instead an ‘NC Curriculum Standards Presentation’. The meeting agenda which was distributed at the meeting looked like this:

Agenda – Buncombe County Board of Education

Work Session
3:00 p.m. – Board Auditorium
Thursday, May 1, 2014

CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Rhinehart

NC CURRICULUM STANDARDS PRESENTATION – Susanne Swanger

SERIES 6000 – SUPPORT SERVICES

  • Policy 6140
  • Policy 6140-R – Student Wellness Standards

AGENDA ITEMS/OTHER ITEMS – Chairman Rhinehart

ADJOURNMENT – Chairman Rhinehart

In fact, the full agenda that is available online does not give any details about this ‘work session’ either.  One item on that agenda of interest was Policy 5210 – Distribution and Display of Non-School Material.  Do the NCAE’s protest emails qualify? 

Handouts consisted of:

  •  State Superintendent’s statement located on the Department of Public Instruction’s website which was, in essence, a denouncement of the Common Core Legislative Research Committee’s findings and proposed draft bill to replace the Common Core.
  • The parent overview document on the Common Core from the Department of Public Instruction.
  • The Mission Statement of the Common Core Math Standards.

No opposition research, notes or testimony were handed out. 

Who Attended

Present at this meeting were 6 Board members; ironically, it was reported that the Board chair was absent but came later for the regular meeting. The Vice-Chair, Chip Craig, led the meeting instead. The Buncombe Superintendent was there and the Associate Superintendent, Susanne Swanger.   According to the report I received, Swanger apparently arranged this Common Core work session and played moderator. Few questions were apparently allowed to be asked.

The report I received noted that the first panel had about 5-6 ELA (English Language Arts) and Social Studies teachers along with 2 curriculum coaches.  The second panel had 5-6 Math and Science teachers and 2 curriculum coaches. The Buncombe County Schools Director of Student Services was there.  There may have been some more administrators in the audience, that’s unclear at this time and no representative from the Department of Public Instruction was noted to be there.

The audio and video of this meeting are not yet available online. When they are, I will update this article with the appropriate links.

Details and Background

Common Core is a big issue. Notification of this ‘work group’ going on should have been made known to the public. A meeting on Common Core in Buncombe county has been called for many times, only to be dismissed or rejected. In fact, in December of 2013, School Board member Lisa Baldwin put in a Common Core resolution on the agenda. Board Chair Rhinehart offered to have a session later on, so Baldwin removed her resolution from the agenda at that time. The session never happened, so Baldwin re-introduced it in April of 2014.   Here is the relevant portion of that meeting and resolution:

Excerpt from the minutes of April 10, 2014 school board session:
RESOLUTION REGARDING IMPLEMENTATION OF “COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS”

Motion: Ms. Baldwin moved for approval, and Mr. Pless seconded the motion. A lengthy discussion ensued. Mr. Pless and Mr. Craig shared that they would like to hear from the teachers. Mr. Rhinehart encouraged everyone to wait until the May 1 Work Session to receive information. Dr. Baldwin agreed to invite our teachers to come and talk with us about the entire scope of standards that our teachers use to guide this. Ms. Baldwin asked that the Board not wait on this decision. The Chair recognized Ms. Franklin to call the question.

Vote: The motion failed with a 4/3 vote with Board members Bryant, Craig, Churchill and Franklin voting against the motion. Board members L. Baldwin, Pless and Rhinehart were in favor of the motion.

I reached out to Lisa Baldwin on this. The clear intent of this resolution was to allow for parents and the public to hear about Common Core. Baldwin noted that while the Board Chair mentioned waiting until May 1, nothing further was ever said about this.  Baldwin stated,  ” I recalled that the Board Chair said we would try to have one in May.  Nothing was ever said about it after this.  The vote that occurred below was taken twice; the first time 4 board members said yes to the resolution, then Amy Churchill asked for a do over.”

Well, it would seem that someone on the Buncombe board set this Common Core work session into motion and did not involve all the members of said board.

 

UPDATE 5-24-14: Audio of the meeting has been added HERE.  Volume quality isn’t high, so crank the speakers.

Throughout most of the tracks, the standards are continually referred to as curriculum. This is contrary to the talking point proponents have been embed, which is “Common Core are just a set of learning standards”.

Board Member Lisa Baldwin has a comment that starts near the very end of Track 7 and continues into Track 8 talking about her daughter’s experience with the overly convoluted math. You have to crank up the volume really high to hear the response by a male math teacher. He basically says the ‘process’ is just as important as getting the right answer. Chuckles to his response are audible on the tape. Clearly, some folks were not buying it. The answer meandered on for a while. What a contortionist act.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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