Northwest of Atlanta sits Marietta, Cobb County, where, on a late spring 2013 night, a crowd cheered as the Cobb Board of Education voted down the district's request to buy math curricula. The vote was not unanimous, but striking.
Nine of Cobb high schools received medals in the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings. This spring eleven of their eighteen county high schools made the list of the Top 100 Most Challenging High Schools, based on the Challenge Index ratio of academic tests to the number of senior graduates. Cobb County sites claim educational excellence.
Why would Cobb County residents cheer this rejection of fresh educational resources?
The district's request to the Cobb BoE offered a plethora of math enrichment for elementary, middle school, and high school students—73,000 materials including the latest online resources, teaching booklets, and hardback textbooks. The $7.5 million curricula is reported to have met the Common Core Curriculum Standards adopted by Georgia in 2010. Since 2009 the White House has used “Race to the Top” competitive grant funds to lure the fifty states to adopt Common Core national K–12 standards. According to the map, most states have fallen in line.
These standards were, incidentally, developed as a joint project of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Heritage Foundation analysts posited, “these common standards could one day be a qualification for states wanting future Title 1 dollars for low-income schools.”
North Georgians helped birth the original Taxed Enough Already movement. Perhaps the audience may have cheered the Cobb BoE vote as a frugal slap of reality into federal/state tax and spend addicts/enablers. Some in the audience may have seen the rejection vote as upholding local parental rights over federal mandates.
Georgia's Republican Governor, Nathan Deal had this divergent response to the Marietta Journal:
“The federal government did not mandate it, they did not control it, they did not dictate its content... “I think there is also a misunderstanding between the Common Core standards, which simply says these are the things that a student needs to know or be able to do at certain grade levels in their school progress, as opposed to a Common Core curriculum, whereby you dictate what is taught. That is not the case here, so I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about what the Common Core does.”
For now one Georgia county will halt the buy of $7.5 million new curriculum. Yet the Peach State, as a whole, has had Common Core in place for three years. It doesn't take forever for mandates to calcify. As a summer vacation nears, it would behoove all parents and caregivers, indeed all Georgia voters to examine the current education standards and potential curriculum.
Will these given standards and materials educate children to be informed and skilled adult citizenry of the future? It will be interesting to see who shows up at the next Board of Education meetings at Cobb or the 158 other counties of the Peach State.