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August 23, 2013

Gov. Deal orders review of education guidelines

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered an extensive review of national education guidelines known as Common Core standards.

Deal also asked the State Board of Education to “un-adopt” part of the program that includes sample English test selections that some parents object to, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Deal also asked the board to develop a new social studies curriculum that emphasizes, among other things, civic and fiscal responsibility. The governor also urged members to come up with a model reading list for school boards across Georgia.

The Atlanta newspaper reports that Deal’s order signals his declining support for Common Core amid criticism that the guidelines are a federal takeover of education policy. The voluntary set of reading and math standards has become a divisive issue in Georgia politics.

“There’s a lively debate going on in many states about whether Common Core raises or lowers the standards,” said Deal spokesman Brian Robinson. “This letter merely asks for the school board to review the Common Core standards and rate how they measure up to state standards used in the past.”

The national guidelines are hotly debated at school boards across Georgia and are at the center of budding political campaigns. The leaders of Georgia’s Republican Party in June voted unanimously to urge state leaders to withdraw from the program on grounds that it “obliterates Georgia’s constitutional autonomy.”

No state is forced to adhere to the Common Core standards. Georgia could get out of Common Core in a couple of ways: The state board could vote to pull Georgia out or Deal could sign legislation pulling the state out of Common Core.

On Wednesday, the State Board of Education held committee meetings but did not formally discuss Deal’s letter. It is likely to be on the agenda when the board meets in September.

“I can assure you we’ll do what the governor has asked us to do,” board member Scott Johnson said.

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