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WV Senate amends Common Core repeal bill, final vote set for Saturday

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The West Virginia Senate on Friday removed a bill’s language that would’ve required the state to replace its largely Common Core-based math and English language arts K-12 education standards with standards previously used in California and Massachusetts.

But while Senate Bill 524 — set for a final vote in the Senate today before it can move on to the House of Delegates — no longer requires the state to move to any specific new standards, it still says that the state Board of Education is “prohibited from implementing Common Core academic standards.”

Sarah Stewart, the Department of Education’s director of policy and government relations, said the department suggested the amendment to remove the requirement to use the California and Massachusetts standards, and she said she believes the bill as it now stands wouldn’t actually require the state board — which oversees the education department — to change its current education standards.

“I think all standards have a layer of commonality,” Stewart said. “We’re not arbitrarily gonna teach something different at third grade just for the sake of being different. So I think that our standards that we have in place were adopted with the input of teachers, so we will have met the statutory requirements if this bill passes.”

West Virginia’s current standards contain language identical to Common Core, a national math and English standards blueprint. Yet state Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano publicly argues that the state school board already repealed Common Core when it made its last revisions to the standards.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Kenny Mann, R-Monroe and a co-sponsor of the bill, echoed a similar notion during previous discussion of the bill Thursday — after the bill already had passed through his committee with no discussion or changes.

“Common Core is dead in West Virginia, I strongly believe that ... it was repealed,” Mann said after explaining the standards review process that occurred before the state board revised the standards.

Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, suggested all of Friday’s amendments to the bill, and all were accepted. Alongside the removal of the California and Massachusetts standards language, another of his amendments changed the date West Virginia would be “prohibited from implementing Common Core academic standards” from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018.

That would give the state more time to implement new standards if the current bill passes and it is ultimately interpreted as requiring the state to change its current standards.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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