Common Core Controversy Could Be Headache for Teachers

Jun 27, 2013

45 states, including Georgia, have adopted a set of education standards called the Common Core. The standards were developed by states, but are supported by the U.S. Education Department. Recently, some members of Georgia’s Republican Party voted to try and repeal the standards during the upcoming legislative session.

Georgia’s former education standards were used to help write the Common Core. Therefore, State Superintendent John Barge says, if the General Assembly were to repeal the standards, it wouldn’t largely affect state officials. But, he says, there’s one group it will impact significantly.

“The difficulty would be teachers, once again, being asked to change what they do,” Barge says, “And they just really have felt jerked around the last couple of years changing so often that it would just be another change. And it’s pretty frustrating for them. They really want to be left alone at this point to teach.”

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia schools just finished year one of Common Core implementation in math and English/Language Arts. Because most textbooks hadn’t aligned to the standards last year, teachers had to mine their own resources. Toni Lujan-Green is a fourth grade math and science teacher at West Side Elementary School in Marietta.

“It’s very time-consuming to start from scratch,” Green says, “There isn’t a textbook. Hopefully, in the area of math, this will spark textbooks that are better-written.”

Tim Callahan, a spokesperson for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, says teachers are focused on what’s going on in their classrooms more than what’s taking place under the Gold Dome.

“The politics of it that’s sort of blossomed from, ‘Is it a federal program or is it one that was brought to us by governors or state chiefs?’ I don’t think educators are thinking very much about those things,” Callahan says, “They’re thinking about their classroom, their curriculum, and how they can work with their kids on those things.”

Gov. Nathan Deal recently issued an executive order denouncing any federal interference in Georgia education policy. Deal, Barge and other key Republicans have publically supported the Common Core.

However, the controversy has kept some local school districts from adopting textbooks and other materials aligned to the standards. For example, the Cobb County school board has delayed such a vote, citing uncertainty about the future of the standards. That has frustrated some teachers, who are concerned they’ll start the school year without the materials they need.