Civitas Review

Appointments made to common core review commission


A number of appointments have been made to the Academic Standards Review Commission. S.L. 2014-78 created the commission for reviewing Common Core Math and English Standards and making recommendations to the State Board of Education.  The legislation established an 11 member Commission. As of today, 8 members have been named. They are:

Mrs. Sara "Katie" Lemons of Stokes County – English Teacher
Dr. Jeffrey  A. Isenhour of Catawba County -Middle School Principal
Ms. Tammy J. Covil of New Hanover County — New Hanover County Board of Education
Mrs. Sharmel “Denise” Watts of Mecklenburg County  — Project Lift in Charlotte,

Dr. John. T. Scheick  of Wake County  - Retired Professor
Laurie McCullom  of Rockingham County – Assistant Principal
Ann B. Clark  of Iredell County – Deputy Superintendent of Schools, CMS
Jeannie Metcalf  of Forsyth County – Winston Salem, Forsyth County Board of Education

Speaker Tillis made the first four appointments;  the second four are those made by Senate President Phil Berger.  Three slots remain to be filled. Chairman of the State Board of Education, Bill Cobey has two appointments. I am told an announcement could be made by the end of this week.  Governor McCrory has the other appointment.  No word yet on when that selection will be made.

S.L. 2014-78 said the Commission's first meeting was to be held before September 1st.  Obviously that won't be happening.  With these appointments, the Commission does however now have a quorum.  I would expect that Commission meeting dates and agendas would start develop shortly.

Stay tuned.

But you'll still be able to choose your own curriculum


That's the limp and tiresome refrain of Common Core supporters to those who think the new standards are taking away teacher creativity as well as the ability of local schools to control what's taught in the classroom.

Now there is an even stronger reason to doubt Common Core backers. In recent weeks Politico and Education Week (subscription required) reported about a new web site, The site, funded by a $3 million dollar grant from the Helms Charitable Trust and — you guessed it — the Gates Foundation, will serve as a Consumer Reports for education materials; evaluating materials based on how well they are aligned to Common Core standards.The rating system will help teachers will "know" which curricula to pick because they will have the highest ratings. The rating system will also serve to punish those materials that — even though they may be good — are not aligned to Common Core Standards.

Two questions: So which school districts will have the courage to pick a curriculum that is not highly rated? How is this not an attempt to create a national curriculum?

These developments validate what we have been saying all along: why would any teacher or school district choose materials that don't teach to the standards? The assertion that teachers and local districts will be able to chose curricula has always been worthless. The fact is, standards drive curriculum. Even if a teacher chooses a different curriculum, teachers know what concepts are tested. Since teachers will be evaluated on student performance — which is how well the standards are taught — now we find there are penalties in place for those who dare venture off the Common Core script.

But don't worry teachers and school districts will still be able to choose their own curriculum.

Special Session for More Corporate Welfare?


From the N&O:

Top economic development and business officials on Wednesday joined Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in calling for a special lawmaking period this year. Decker told the N.C. Economic Development Board at its meeting in Raleigh that job recruiters are “in a difficult spot” after the General Assembly’s failure in its just-ended session to add more money for Job Development Investment Grants and create a special, flexible fund aimed at closing deals in the latter stages of negotiations with companies.

McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said Wednesday that he had no news to report about a possible special session.

Decker told board members that money in the popular JDIG incentives fund would run out by late October without legislative action to increase the cap. The state, she said, is pursuing a large project that would take 80 percent of the fund’s balance, leaving little cash for about 30 other projects – and roughly 10,000 jobs – that are “in the pipeline.”

Read more here:

State Government's 'Waste of the Week'


This week marks a new regular feature by the Civitas Institute entitled "Waste of the Week." Think that NC state government has been "cut to the bone" and has been tightly trimmed to focus exclusively on 'core services' of state gov't?

Think again.

Each week Civitas will highlight a state government office, agency or expenditure that few would be hard-pressed to defend as a core function of state government. Many of these items may not come with a large price tag, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Consider these the “low hanging fruit” that should be easy for state legislators and budget writers to eliminate.

Those lawmakers who claim to want to limit the size and scope of state government should pay close attention, as should voters. If legislators can’t even find it in themselves to eliminate the items featured in this series, then what will they be willing to eliminate?

The first installment in this series focuses on state occupational licensing boards and commissions. These are groups that require licensing and other unneccessary regulations for mostly service-sector professionals, and serve as a means to protect existing businesses from potential competition. Restricted competition hurts consumers.

A recent state audit also pointed out that these boards and commissions have such little state oversight that there is not even agreement as to exactly how many there are.

To learn more about this week's "Waste of the Week," click here.

Voucher ruling will be appealed; but when


Like most supporters of school choice, I'm disappointed by yesterday's ruling  by Judge Hobgood declaring the Opportunity Scholarship legislation unconstitutional.  The ruling  has given parents and schools one more headache and jeopardized the futures of many students.

If you're a parent or school choice supporter the deck certainly looks stacked.

The "technical glitches" of last week which prevented schools from receiving their first payments  appear highly questionable.

I'm also not to thrilled to see all the courtroom rejoicing over a decision that effectively strips kids  of an opportunity for a better education? But I guess NCAE officials had no problem containing their glee.  I guess the children only matter if they attend public schools.

I'm told by attorneys in the know that an emergency appeal to expedite a ruling was drafted and sent to the AG at 10 this morning.  As of now mid-afternoon, the AG's office was still reviewing it. It's now 5:15. So someone failed to expedite the process.

Why do I get the feeling that there seems to be too many people who don't really don't care if needy kids get a chance at getting a good education.

Still I'm optimistic. Hobgood's earlier decision was reversed by the State Supreme Court. And there are 2400 reasons why the court of appeals should expedite the case — if not today, then next week.  Let's hope the judges feel the same way.