State Sen. Mike Fair

State Senator Mike Fair (R-Greenville) introduced S. 604 last session which is up again this session.  This bill, if passed, would prevent the Common Core State Standards from being imposed on the state.  The bill’s language says:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.

Caffeinated Carolina will be tracking the progress of this bill this session as it essentially went no where last session.  To help bring the issue to the forefront once again American Principles in Action South Carolina Director Joe Mack and South Carolina State Education Board Member Michael Brenan wrote an op/ed in The State yesterday that is worth noting.  They said essentially that the Common Core State Standards dumb down English.  Mack and Brenan wrote:

The Pioneer Institute finds that by grade 8, the math standards will put students “a year or two behind” students in leading states and our international competitors and facing “large holes” in the Common Core high school program. The English language arts standards are even worse.

After serving on the Common Core Validation Committee, researcher and scholar Sandra Stotsky concluded that the reading standards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework. (South Carolina’s own literature standards are much better, as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has found.) Common Core also locks high school English teachers into a rigid instructional scheme different from anything they’ve been trained for, and created by people who have no academic training in English literature, composition or rhetoric.

As Dr. Stotsky explains, Common Core expects English teachers to spend more than 50 percent of their reading instructional time on nonfiction and informational texts, such as science and technology texts, political documents and Supreme Court decisions. This is not what English teachers are trained to do. They engage in the study of literature (and composition and rhetoric) and teach students how to read literary works (including speeches, biographies and literary essays), not computer manuals or science textbooks.

The standards not only provide no intellectual base or structure for a curriculum, they actually prevent one from emerging. The academic content of the typical secondary literature curriculum consists of concepts and works that guide literary study through the grades (e.g., genres, subgenres, rhetorical and literary techniques and elements, literary periods and traditions).

This is a bill that the South Carolina Legislature must pass to not only retain their higher standards, but to stop the Federal Government from encroaching further into education policy.

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