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Common Core Debate Continues As Governors Meet In Nashville PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Monday, 14 July 2014 10:32

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Reviled by staunch conservatives, the common education standards designed to improve schools and student competitiveness are being modified by some Republican governors, who are pushing back against what they call the federal government's intrusion into the classroom.

The Common Core standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association that ended Sunday, relegated to hallway discussions and closed-door meetings among governors and their staffs. The standards and even the words, "Common Core," have "become, in a sense, radioactive," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state voluntarily adopted the standards in 2010.
"We want Iowa Common Core standards that meet the needs of our kids," Branstad said, echoing an intensifying sentiment from tea party leaders who describe the education plan as an attempt by the federal government to take over local education.
There was little controversy when the bipartisan governors association in 2009 helped develop the common education standards aimed at improving schools and students' competitiveness across the nation. The standards were quickly adopted by 44 states.
But conservative activists who hold outsized influence in Republican politics aggressively condemned Common Core, and lawmakers in 27 states this year have proposed either delaying or revoking Common Core. The issue has forced many ambitious Republicans who previously had few concerns to distance themselves from the standards and the issue has begun to shape the early stages of the 2016 presidential race.
Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 candidate among the governors gathered in Nashville, said he has proposed a measure to adopt Wisconsin-specific education standards that are tougher than what the state adopted under Common Core in 2010.
"My problem with Common Core is I don't want people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be," Walker said.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was the first to sign legislation revoking Common Core in April and fellow potential Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed a series of executive orders blocking the use of tests tied to the standards, a move that outraged his state's own education superintendent.
Republicans governors in Oklahoma and South Carolina, an early presidential primary state, have signed measures aimed at repealing the standards.
Other Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have defended the standards as integral to improving student performance and maintaining American competitiveness around the globe.
Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, of Vermont, called the conservative critics "crazy."
"The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems," said Shumlin, who leads the Democratic Governors Association.
Common Core is a set of English and math standards that spell out what students should know and when. The standards for elementary math have confounded some parents by departing from some traditional methods to emphasize that kids understand how numbers relate to each other. Comedian Louis C.K. captured some of that that frustration when he took to Twitter earlier this year to vent about his kids' convoluted homework under Common Core, writing that his daughters went from loving math to crying about it.
There are vocal critics on left as well. Teachers' groups that typically back Democrats have complained that the standards rely too heavily on student test scores, which in turn are used to evaluate teacher performance.
In New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been a major advocate of tougher accountability measures for teachers, Democratic lawmakers have sought to delay linking evaluations to testing related to the standards.
Christie said he plans to issue an executive order on the issue this week, though he declined to elaborate. Christie, a potential GOP presidential contender, said the public skepticism about Common Core can be traced to a general distrust of the federal government.
He said voters "given the lack of confidence they have in government in Washington and that type of centralization, want their governors" to figure out solutions that work for their states.
Some governors attending the weekend conference said they were surprised to find the resistance to the standards.
"It's important for us governors to keep remembering the history of this, and the fact that this was not and continues to not be about a federal takeover," said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada stressed that the majority of the states are still in the process of implementing the new standards and it's the responsibility of governors and education officials to remind people that the curriculums will be designed locally.
"Nothing comes without a bit of controversy, but at the end of the day people realize it's in the best interest of the children of the state," he said.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 10:32
Nearly Two Dozen Receive Appointments To Textbook Commission PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Friday, 11 July 2014 09:53

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - Twenty-two North Carolinians have been appointed to the state commission that evaluates textbooks for adoption by the state. 

The term length to the Texbook Commission is four years. Appointments were made by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Each textbook shall be read by at least one expert certified in the discipline for which the book would be used. 
The appointees are:
** Dawn Hester (Pitt County)  
** Tracy Arnold (Pitt County) 
** Tracey Lewis (Stokes County)  
** Lesa Widener (Catawba County) 
** Julie Felix (Cabarrus County) 
** Maria Bishop (Burke County) 
** Michelle Gray (Scotland County) 
** Charles Gaffigan (McDowell County)  
** Brian Creasman (Vance County) 
** Cassundra Morrison (Surry County) 
** Jessica Luby (Catawba County) 
** Glenn Locklear (New Hanover County) 
** Michelle Tiesi (Mecklenburg County)  
** Alison Mintz (Cleveland County) 
** Rodney Trice (Orange County) 
** Daniel Novey (Carteret County) 
** Kathleen Linker (Rowan County) 
** Lissa Harris (Guilford County) 
** Linda Mozell (Guilford County) 
** Brenda Winfrey-Knox (Cumberland County) 
** Kathy Crumpler (Pender County) 
** Stephen Gay (Wake County) 
Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 09:53
U.S. Teens Trail Many Countries In Financial Literacy PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:02


WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States runs in the middle of the pack when it comes to the financial knowledge and skills of 15-year-old boys and girls, according to an international study released Wednesday.
China's financial hub of Shanghai had the highest average score for teens who participated in the testing for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. A total of 18 countries and economies were studied. Shanghai was followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, the U.S., Russia and France.
At the bottom of the list: Croatia, Israel, the Slovak Republic, Italy and Colombia.
The testing is part of OECD's Program for International Student Assessment, which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide. This is the program's first assessment of financial literacy of teens.
The questions on the two-hour paper test ranged from simple to complex.
The easiest questions asked students to display basic financial literacy skills, such as recognizing the purpose of an invoice or comparing prices per unit to determine which had a better value.
The most difficult asked students to analyze more complicated scenarios, such as reviewing two loan proposals with differing rates and terms and choosing the better offer.
Shanghai notched the top average score of 603 points on the test. The U.S., by comparison, had an average score of 492, and Colombia, at the bottom, scored 379.
So what is Shanghai doing right?
Michael Davidson, head of schools for the OECD, says Shanghai schools identify students who are struggling and provide the support they need. Successful systems, he said, are ones that don't let students fall behind.
The financial literacy study was administered in 2012 to approximately 29,000 15-year-old students in 13 OECD countries and economies and five partner countries and economies.
Across all 18 countries and economies, only 1 in 10 students could solve the hardest financial literacy questions on the test, the report said.
In the U.S., only 9.4 percent of the students taking part in the study were able to solve the most difficult questions. More than 1 in 6 U.S. students did not reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy. At best, said the report, those students could make only simple decisions on everyday spending.
The OECD's Davidson said being grounded in financial literacy is crucial to teens preparing to decide whether to enter the job market or embark on college and university educations.
Many, he said, already use financial products in their daily lives. In the U.S., for example, about 50 percent of the 15-year-olds said they have a bank account. About 15 percent said they have a prepaid debit card.
Gov. McCrory Authorizes $376 Million of Improvements At Six UNC System Campuses PDF Print E-mail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 13:38

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - Six North Carolina campuses will share $376 million to make improvements. Funds to pay for the projects will come from various fees, receipts, grants and fund raising income and not from tuition or taxpayer monies appropriated by the General Assembly.

The capital project are at East Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, UNC-Asheville, Western Carolina and UNC-Charlotte.
The projects are:
-- At East Carolina, $156 million for improving the Student Union Building, the Health Sciences Campus Student Services Building and constructing a new parking structure.
-- At UNC-Charlotte, $129 million for building a new residence hall, renovating four residence halls and building various infrastructure ranging from roads to wireless connectivity.
-- At NC State, $35 million for a facelift to Reynolds Coliseum. 
-- At UNC-Chapel Hill, Approximately $32 million to upgrade the Manning Drive Chilled Water Plant.
-- At Western Carolina $22.5 million for renovations to the Brown Building and approximately $1 million for improving the Student Recreation Center and the Karl Straus Track Building at UNC-Asheville.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 13:39

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