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Support grows for curriculum change
As Sen. William Ligon, R-St. Simons Island, continues to pick up support across the state for his proposed Senate Bill 186, Glynn County School System administrators are taking note.

The bill would withdraw Georgia from its participation in the Common Core Standards, among other things, if it passes in the Senate and House and is signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Glynn Academy Principal Scott Spence said he appreciates parts of the common core but sees a bigger issue.

"I certainly understand the importance of having common standards across the nation.  I also like the increased rigor that we have been trying to implement.

"However, there comes a time when we have to sit down and use more of a common sense approach to what we want our kids to learn," he said.

"I am not sure that the Common Core Standards are the best fit for all students and I am confident that there will be more changes in future years."

Most Glynn school board members, including Millard Allen, share that opinion.

Allen, like others, feels the state's constant curriculum overhaul over the last decade is where the real issue stands.

"This is the third new curriculum in the six years that I've been on the board. In my view, the Georgia Department of Education hasn't done a good job of establishing a curriculum," he said.

"If the common core gets left alone, I'll have no problem with that, but whatever it is, we need to establish something and give it a chance to work, and really it should at least be established at the state level."

The Common Core State Standards was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to create uniform curricula and evaluations throughout the nation to overcome complaints that too many high school graduates are not prepared for jobs.

"Right now, the biggest concern is consistency," Allen said. "Regardless of what program it is, we have to pick one and stick with it. People are complaining about so many changes and it's true - how do you stay up to date when you're changing textbooks and materials every two years?"

Board member Ingrid Metz would take her support for Ligon's legislation a step further.

As a teacher at Brunswick High School for 29 years, she not only supports Ligon's legislation but is strongly against common core and hopes to see it gone.

"I am totally against common core. I support Ligon as an educator and most educators support him with the way common core has been implemented," Metz said.

"I feel the only reason we're doing this is because we've got federal funding for it."

In Metz's eyes, the standardized expectations across the board with common core is one of the biggest issues.

She says it's not only a problem with the one-fits-all mentality but also in how it tests student and teacher success.

"One of the worst things is that teacher evaluations will be judged based on the outcomes of standardized tests," she said.

"Look what happened with Adequate Yearly Progress. There was cheating statewide. Teachers will be compelled to do whatever it takes to save their job."

Teachers, particularly in Glynn County, have had to take on increased administrative rolls and spend too much time analyzing and inputting statistics instead of spending the time in the classroom.

"We're becoming far too test-conscious. Children are being taught to test and not being taught the subject itself. The truth is that some teachers have students that, no matter how hard the teacher tries, are slower learners," Metz said.

"We all differ, and a more localized curriculum, reaching back to the basics, would benefit all. The slower-learning children won't feel forced to keep up or bad about themselves in any way and the gifted children won't be slowed down."

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.



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