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ATLANTA — Leaders of Georgia’s Republican Party voted Saturday to press state officials to withdraw from a national program that creates a basic set of educational standards.
Party leaders voted unanimously to ask the state to withdraw from Common Core — an initiative aimed at creating basic reading, math and language arts requirements. The initiative has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Georgia Republicans want to withdraw from the program because they believe state officials should maintain control over Georgia’s educational standards, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“This is a huge mistake and our students will suffer because of this,” state Sen. William Ligon, of Brunswick, told the newspaper. “This debate is something that should have occurred back in 2010 but it didn’t. Now we need to maintain our absolute control over our standards.”
Common Core was adopted in 2010 and has been the target of criticism by conservatives who argue the standards may create a path toward a federal takeover of state education policies. The federal government was not involved in creating Common Core, but has encouraged states to adopt the standards under its “Race to the Top” grant competition.
Adoption of Common Core standards has also been met with opposition from local school boards.
Cobb County school board members voted in April not to buy new math textbooks aligned with Common Core standards. Critics said the books were an effort to dilute Georgia’s education system.
School officials in Fayette County voted to spend $1.6 million on Common Core math books after a contentious debate between teachers who supported buying the books and parents who didn’t.
In Cherokee County, school board member Kelly Marlow requested the board assemble a committee to study the Common Core standards. Her request went unanswered, prompting her to ask for an investigation by a state accreditation agency.
“Our elected officials should be open to hearing citizens’ concerns over Common Core,” Marlow said. “People are concerned about the perceived federalization of our education system and they want local officials to have more of a say.”
Education officials in at least eight other states are trying to stall the standards from being implemented, repeal Common Core or prevent it from expanding to other subjects.