Common Core among the topics of debate in superintendent race - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Common Core among the topics of debate in superintendent race

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More than a dozen candidates vying for the title of Superintendent of Education, there's a lot of talk on a handful of issues. One of the biggest hot button topics this year: Common Core standards.

The classroom is being brought into the voting booth this year and with Common Core becoming a trending topic nationwide, it's at the heart of campaign platforms.

But some educators in the state say the set of standards deserves another look.

Winning an election often comes down to a matter of numbers, but usually those numbers aren't in your child's math textbook.

"Our state has already implemented Common Core," said Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council. "I don't think people are really clear on everything it does."

"What the common core state standards has done is put more rigor in the classroom," said Jackie B. Hicks, president of the South Carolina Education Association.

But what exactly are the Common Core standards? If you check the Council of Chief State School Officers web site, it describes them as a strict set of math and English standards. Those standards, according to opponents of Common Core, are the problem itself -- tough to understand and dictated by a group outside the Palmetto State.

"With government overreach from Washington," said Landess. "As long as we take the dollars, we're going to get the standards."

"This thing of everything's being dictated by someone is a complete fallacy. Like the goals of what we want our students to know," said Hicks.

The standards are set in place by a national consortium of school leaders, which South Carolina recently pulled out of. But the standards are already in use in South Carolina schools, so even if the next superintendent of education decides to pull the plug, what can you do?

"The real option here is to create all choices. Any choices. All different ways of learning for different children," said Landess.

Which is what Hicks says Common Core allows for.

"We're looking for something that will truly put us on the global market," said Hicks. "If you're not willing to do that in our education system, then you're not really fighting for students."

But a student in South Carolina may not be the same as a student in Georgia, or Tennessee, or California. So, according to Landess, the state should have the say in education standards, not the consortium.

"Stop taking the federal dollars and start funding education with state money," said Landess.

While Common Core is one of the big issues this year, career preparation, technological improvement, and even privatizing school bus systems are on the campaign trail.

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