Yesterday was the first meeting of the Common Core Commission, officially known as the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC). It took place from 2 to 4 pm in a small conference room on the 4th floor of the Education building where the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is housed. By law, the commission is not supposed to meet at DPI but they split hairs just enough by holding it in the Construction office’s conference room.
At any rate, as I said, it was small and seating was tight for those who could get a chair. In fact, it was mainly standing room only with overflow into the hallway.
I did not get there early enough for seating, so I took a spot on the floor with several other Common Core moms. (It was great to see you ladies!)
The Lt. Governor’s office was there and snapped this shot (right) where you can spot me on the floor. Ugh. They got me in my nasty sandals.
I was glad to count over a dozen of us there all wearing black. Hilariously, a row of DPI employees were also all in black. Thanks for the support!
Media were lined up against one wall. I spotted Local NPR, ABC11, WRAL, WNCN, TWC and one other I couldn’t identify. I’ll drop links to the local media stories at the bottom of this article.
Cobey opened up the meeting with a statement that included the line that the commission
needed to make sure that the recommended standards were “clear, concise, rigorous, measurable and age appropriate.”
The word “rigor” and “rigorous” were thrown around the meeting a lot. Parents sitting in the audience audibly groaned each time it was said.
Cobey also said that the “standards themselves don’t dictate curriculum.” That’s not accurate – standards drive all other aspects of teaching from curriculum to tests to materials.
Senator Tillman and Representative Horn were both there. They each made statements. Senator Tillman re-stated the intent of SB 812 as ‘taking Common Core off the books’, that SB 812 was intended to ‘replace’ Common Core and the commission was formed for that purpose. Tillman re-iterated his past comments that North Carolina should have its own standards, curriculum and assessments.
Tillman also gave a warning to the commission, “The legislature, in my opinion, will not take something that is just a rehash.”
Rep. Horn’s comments were similar. Horn made a statement that contradicted Cobey’s characterization of the standards not being linked to curriculum. Paraphrasing Horn a bit, he said, ‘Curriculum, assessments and standards are inextricably linked’.
Co-chairs were then elected – Andre Peek and Jeannie Metcalf. The Co-chairs took their positions at the head of the table and the meeting got rolling. Peek launched into a set of statements indicating that review was the main charge of the commission. No, it’s review and replacement.
Peek also made a bizarre word salad type set of statements about standards and needing to define what a standard is. Peek said, “standards mean different things to different people.” Wait.. what?
A standard is a statement of a skill set. A set of standards is a list of said types of statements. This is not rocket science.
Dr. Scheik asked a question about the standards around that same point. He asked is multiple proficiency levels existed inside each standard of the current standards, Common Core. Olivia Oxendine clarified that point for Scheik saying, ‘Common Core State Standards are one level regardless of ability level’ and that in North Carolina we now score kids on the Common Core based on the new 5 level scoring system imposed this year. That statement, in a nutshell, says a lot about Common Core funneling kids to the middle.
There was also a good deal of discussion on getting a survey out to teachers. Multiple mentions of ‘doing it right’ and avoiding bias were made. It was also suggested students be surveyed. Parents – you should be asked for consent for this should it happen. Ask to see said survey.
It would appear from the consensus yesterday that Dr. McCollum will be heading up the survey tasks. Mr. Peek suggested he had business community people who could help with these surveys. NO THANKS.
A lot of the discussion centered around teachers, what they thought, what they needed and a little bit about the students needs. Business interests were mentioned quite a lot by Mr. Peek, however, parents were mentioned about twice in the two hours we were there. The commission needs to consider that it is parents who are the ultimate stakeholders and decision makers here.
Transparency was mentioned a number of times in the opening, yet by the end of the meeting I still was unsure where the meeting minutes, announcements, contact information, audio logs or whatever other materials that would involve the commission would be located. I am working under the assumption it will hang off of the Dept. of Administration website.
Chris Mears from DOA was at the meeting and referred to as a contact point. Mears is also the one who did the press release for the meeting on the DOA site and his contact information is at the bottom of that release.
Who Was There & The Media
Notables in attendance were the far Left leaning NC Justice Center. Chris Hill made this statement to ABC 11:
“There’s a lot misunderstood,” according to Chris Hill, with the liberal think-tank NC Justice Center. “It’s looked at as some kind of takeover of public education, when really what it is, is a set of standards where we can benchmark state to state how well kids are doing, and that can help close the achievement gap.”
Mr. Hill could easily get a job with Achieve, Inc. or the Gates Foundation with that kind of dedicated cheer leading. His colleague at NC Policy Watch – Lindsay Wagner, who I did not see there but was sitting in the back from what she told me, filed this report:
At the first meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission, which is tasked with reviewing and potentially replacing the Common Core State Standards, co-chair and Gov. Pat McCrory appointee Andre Peek told N.C. Policy Watch upon the meeting’s conclusion Monday afternoon that he is a supporter of Common Core and has been “since its inception.”
Peek, an executive at IBM, said “I do realize it’s [Common Core] a divisive issue for our state, though. But I don’t know the details of why…so through the efforts of this commission we’ll get to the facts…and how to change it to be more effective for our state,” adding that any changes made will be based on fact and not just a feeling of “we don’t like it.”
Everyone got that?
Peek is pro-core and chairing this commission and remember, he is the appointee of Governor McCrory.
Cobey also made the remark (like this ‘feeling we don’t like it’ one by Peek) early on in the meeting that he wanted to avoid “ad-hominem comments” during the work time of the commission that he has seen made about the standards. Cobey offered no further detail about the content of said ‘ad-hominem’ comments, but I can guess they would involve actual facts about the Common Core given by parents and citizens. The same kind of facts we’ve given for years and been smeared over at every turn.
It’s become crystal clear here that Peek is not only biased, he’s clueless about what a standard is. It is doubtful he has read the findings of the Legislative Research Committee or seen the testimony given by parents with real concerns about Common Core. I would encourage the entire commission to add the findings and videos to their proposed “knowledge base”.
Over at WRAL, they repeated the $66 million dollars spent line — again. WRAL needs to get off their collective talking point butts and investigate that figure. To date, DPI still has not given a detailed accounting of that $66 million in Race To The Top grant money that they claim was spent on ‘professional development’. WRAL has yet to mention that Dr. Atkinson, who made the claim, changed her figure from $57 million to $66 between meetings of the Common Core Legislative Research Committee.
McCrory’s Teach for America and Common Core pushing adviser, Eric Guckian was there.
Also in attendance:
Caroline McCullen of SAS
Nicole Roscoe of the Hunt Institute
Courtney Crowder of Crowder Consulting.
Dr. June Atkinson was NOT there.
Key Points from the meeting
- Co-chairs were selected: Andre Peek and Jeannie Metcalf.
- Co-Chairs will also serve as spokespersons for the Commission.
- Quorum was established as 9 members.
- Four pieces of action were identified. They are to create a knowledge base, set up surveys, identify stakeholders to focus on and set up a standing meeting schedule.
- The standing meeting schedule was set for the 3rd Monday of each month from 1 to 5 pm. Conference calls may also occur, of which the public will be able to dial into as transparency was mentioned multiple times throughout the meeting.
- NC’s Common Core Commission
- McCrory Makes Commission Pick; Has Common Core Ties
- NC Governor’s Common Core Commission Pick: Ralph Andre Peek
- So where are the parents?
NC Media Articles on the first meeting:
ABC11 – STATE PANEL REVISITING COMMON CORE STANDARDS MEETS (w/ video)
WNCN – Panel starts reviewing Common Core standards in NC (w/ video)
TWC – NC Academic Review Commission Working to Replace Common Core (w/ video)
WECT – NHC school board member part of statewide Common Core review (w/ video)
*This post has been updated