Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last-minute rejection of Common Core leaves U.S. History classrooms without textbooks

School district scrambled to order new textbooks, sans Common Core standards, at end of summer

Posted by Paul Bowers on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:01 PM

click to enlarge Publisher McGraw-Hill had to revise this U.S. History textbook late in the summer after South Carolina and other states backed out of Common Core. Some Charleston County students still have not received textbooks.
  • Publisher McGraw-Hill had to revise this U.S. History textbook late in the summer after South Carolina and other states backed out of Common Core. Some Charleston County students still have not received textbooks.

Nearly two weeks into the 2014-2015 school year, some U.S. History students in Charleston County School District still do not have textbooks, thanks to a decision by the state Legislature this summer to repeal the adoption of national Common Core education standards.

According to Solange Brewer, district textbook coordinator for CCSD, by the time Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill rejecting Common Core standards on May 30, school districts had already received proof copies of certain textbooks that included specific references to Common Core standards. In the case of one textbook, the Advanced Placement text American History: Connecting with the Past, Brewer says publisher McGraw-Hill had to delete all references to Common Core standards and replace them with existing South Carolina educational standards. Later, when the Legislature approved the budget for textbooks, the district had to scramble to place orders with just weeks to go before the school year began.

Brewer says all Charleston County AP U.S. History classes now have access to electronic editions of the textbook, but some are still waiting on the print editions to come in.

"We did not get approval from the state Department [of Education] that the Legislature had approved the funding until the last week of July," Brewer says. "By the time we placed our orders, mind you, school started three weeks later, and textbook companies were already behind because they were reprinting. When we placed our orders, it just put them even more behind. I can't say it was South Carolina's order that caused them to have to do the revisions because it happened across the United States."

Brewer says similar revisions had to be made to middle school English textbooks, as well as other high school world geography and U.S. history textbooks. But by the time classes started on Aug. 18, she says the only classrooms lacking textbooks were AP U.S. History classes.

S.C. Education Superintendent Mick Zais
  • S.C. Education Superintendent Mick Zais

South Carolina originally adopted the Common Core standards, which were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to create consistent educational standards nationwide. But in May, the Legislature voted to approve Bill H.3893, which repealed the Common Core standards and ordered the State Board of Education to come up with all-new state education standards in time for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The Common Core standards, which were initially adopted by 45 states, have recently become a sticking point in states'-rights and culture-war debates. Gov. Haley reportedly wrote in a 2012 letter to state Sen. Mike Fair that the state should not "relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states." In a press release celebrating the rejection of the Next Generation Science Standards, which are indirectly related to Common Core, Republican Superintendent Zais touted the fact that the conservative Fordham Institute had given the state's science standards an A-, compared to a C for the Next Generation standards.

Brewer says the re-ordering did not incur any additional costs for the school district, but it did throw her department's end-of-summer schedule into a frenzy. She says she heard about similar problems at school districts across the state.

"They don't realize the impact it has when it filters down to us little people," Brewer says of the General Assembly. "I honestly didn't think it was going to be funded, and we were at the point where, OK, it's been so long now, it's so late in the game that they're not going to do this. Once we got approval that last week of July, we hit it hard. We had a week to get everything ordered and were desperately trying to get everything in the buildings as fast as possible."

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