Pekin Daily Times -
Illinois has entered its second school year with the new Common Core standards in place, and because of a broken state education funding formula, it appears it’s here to stay.
Republican local lawmakers are concerned about the implications of the new system. Democrats say the law was just put in place, and it needs time to gain momentum.
Common Core was introduced to Illinois in 2010 and implemented through the Illinois State Board of Education. Some state lawmakers took objection to that, including state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap.
“Something this big and this major to go through the state board of education was a mistake because there were no hearings, there was no discussion with the people, parents, teachers to have a say in this,” LaHood said. He said it should have gone through the legislative process, where lawmakers would get their chance to vote on the issue.
LaHood’s colleague across the aisle, state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Quincy, said Common Core needs time to settle into the fabric of this state’s education system.
“It’s early in the process. Whenever you implement a process like this it takes time,” Sullivan said. “It looks like there needs to be more time to phase this new program in.” However, another Democratic lawmaker is skeptical. State Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, said he thinks there are positives to Common Core, but he has his own concerns.
“I was not a fan of the No Child Left Behind program because of the problems it had,” Koehler said. “Teachers were teaching to the test. I’m cautious of Common Core for the same reason.”
Sullivan doesn’t consider the program a blanket approach, but rather a level playing field for the state to be evaluated upon.
“The intent of Common Core is to get a uniform set of education standards so we know how everyone is doing across the state,” Sullivan said.
LaHood agrees, and called the “blanket approach,” unfair to local school districts.
“A fourth-grader in Mississippi and fourth-grader in Galesburg are not the same,” LaHood said. “School boards are different in different places and that’s why they’re elected locally.”
However, Sullivan reiterated that schools need more time to implement the more rigorous system, and that one school year isn’t enough.
“We strongly encourage the state board to give us more time and the districts more time and resources,” Sullivan said.
Pipeline to federal dollars
Other than changes to curriculum, lawmakers say it also helps the state raise money for school districts, a task they’ve found to be challenging in recent history.
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