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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Common Core: 'Disaster' or A Useful Tool? Speaking To Lawmakers

About 60 people had the opportunity to share their thoughts on Common Core to lawmakers during Thursday's legislative meeting.
Reema Khrais


Dozens of parents, teachers and education leaders expressed their strong opposition and support of Common Core Thursday to a group of lawmakers considering whether to repeal or revamp the new educational standards.

The state adopted the standards in 2010, but they were implemented in public schools last school year. The standards lay out what students need to know and be able to do from kindergarten through high school.

Common Core has seen a great deal of backlash in many of the 45 states that have adopted the standards, prompting leaders to consider withdrawing or delaying use. In North Carolina, lawmakers created a joint legislative committee that is studying the issue and will likely make recommendations on its implementation.

The committee heard from about 60 members of the public Thursday, many of whom strongly oppose the Common Core standards.

'It's causing anxiety, confusion and is a disaster for these kids.' - Andrea Dillon, parent

“It's causing anxiety, confusion and is a disaster for these kids. We're the ones witnessing this, in the classroom, with our children,” said Andrea Dillon, a parent of a child in Wake County Schools.

Dillon, like many other critics, say the new standards are too demanding on students in the early grades and encourages a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Opponents also argued that Common Core is an attempt to nationalize or globalize education in a way that takes control away from the state.

“First and foremost, it violates our U.S. Constitution,” says Lynn, who identified as a private educator. “It replaces fact-based learning with feelings…and chip[s] away at students’ love of learning.”

Many supporters of the Common Core included teachers, who say the new standards promote critical thinking, instead of rote memorization of facts.

'Because of the previous standards were not as rigorous or as challenging, I, like many teachers, was guilty of not pushing my lowest-performing students enough.' - Karyn Dickerson, NC Teacher of the Year

“Because of the previous standards were not as rigorous or as challenging, I – like many teachers – was guilty of not pushing my lowest-performing students enough,” said Karyn Dickerson, a Guilford County English teacher and 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Nancy Gardner, an English teacher in Mooresville, says she wants her students to master what she considers the “heart and soul” of the Common Core literacy standards.

“Problem-solving, critical reading and writing and perseverance, “  she said. “My students can Google facts and figures all day, but if they haven’t mastered literacy skills, they won’t be ready for the future. 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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