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State Assembly Puts Common Core On Hold

Devon Douglas-Bowers

Monday, June 23, 2014 • 4:25pm

TRENTON, NJ - Last week, Assembly Bill A3081, which allows for the formation of the Education Reform Review Task Force, passed in the State Assembly with a vote of seventy-two in favor, four against, and two abstentions. The bill, which was prime sponsored by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex), delays the implementation of Common Core standards, instead opting to first study the effects it may have on children, teachers, and administrators in schools across the state.

With regards to the task force, its purpose is to study the effects of Common Core standards as well as the teacher evaluation system and the use of assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The task force will be chaired by fifteen individuals, including the Commissioner of Education and a candidate from the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network. Eight of the chairs will be appointed by Governor Christie; however they will be from a wide range of groups such as the American Federation of Teachers of New Jersey and the New Jersey Council of Vocational-Technical schools.

Many may see this as a victory as Common Core has been criticized in the past, with Peggy McGlone of The Star Ledger having penned an article late last year stating that Common Core suffered from a “lack of input from teachers in creating the standards and their accompanying tests” and as such has faced fierce opposition from the teachers union the NJEA.

Common Core is a nationwide state-run educational program focused on math, english, history and art, detailing what students competency level should be at the end of each grade, from kindergarten to twelfth grade, in order to best prepare students for college and the workforce. The program seeks to establish general standards for education across state lines, with each state being responsible for developing and adhering to its own standards. However, many have viewed Common Core as deeply problematic due to across the board changes being made.

Recently, Washington Township's Board of Education President, Ginny Murphy, stated that the implementation of Common Core standards forces her district "to not only change how they operate and evaluate schools and staff, it also forces them to spend a lot of money that's not provided by the legislators who make the laws."

Assemblywoman Jasey proposed bill A3081 as a way to slow down the implementation of Common Core standards. Rather than rush into implementing these new standards, the study of both Common Core and PARCC will allow legislators, school boards, and the public to get a better understanding of these standards and how their implementation will affect students.

The State Senate Education Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill in the near future.

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