Sadly, Common Core Is Not Dead

IT’LL ONLY GO AWAY WHEN LAWMAKERS LEARN TO TURN AWAY FEDERAL CASH

On several recent occasions we’ve heard pundits or public officials – and in one case a candidate for Superintendent of Education – claim that South Carolina has gotten rid of Common Core.

If only.

Now it’s true that the state Department of Education withdrew from Smarter Balanced, the consortium approved by the federal government to develop standardized tests. But South Carolina is still obligated to conform to Common Core standards themselves. It’s also true that both House and Senate have passed a bill that would, among other things, require South Carolina to begin reviewing its current English and Math standards – currently Common Core – by January 1, 2015. The bill also specifies that “the new college and career readiness state content standards” must be implemented in the following  2015-16 school year.

That, too, is a far cry from ending Common Core in South Carolina. Indeed, the bill specifically says that the new standards must still be “college and career ready.” In other words, whichever “new” standards South Carolina comes up with will still have to abide by federal standards in order to continue getting No Child Left Behind waivers (with hundreds of millions of dollars attached – read more about that here). Moreover, most new textbook publishing companies and test makers (like ACT/SAT) are aligning their materials with Common Core standards. Since South Carolina will likely choose the cheapest off-the-shelf options for books and tests, they will likely choose ones that are Common Core-aligned (as most are beginning to be).

Even if South Carolina opts out of the standards regime known as “Common Core,” the “new” standards would almost certainly look exactly like Common Core. Why? Because in order to keep getting No Child Left Behind money and waivers – which amount to hundreds of millions of federal dollars every year – the state will have to adhere to Common  Core-like standards.

And since there is currently little or no chance that state lawmakers will turn away a single federal dollar, Common Core – whatever it’s called – isn’t going anywhere.

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