COLUMBIA - A group of opponents to Common Core were angered Wednesday when a bill that calls for the repeal of the education standards failed to leave a Senate subcommittee.
At least two dozen opponents showed up for a Senate education subcommittee meeting, where senators were expected to approve the bill introduced by Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, that would prevent the State Department of Education from adopting or implementing Common Core. But a series of amendments to the bill introduced by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, slowed down the process, alarming Grooms and other senators about whether the bill will make it to the floor on time.
Fair has been an opponent of Common Core standards since they were adopted in 2010. But he said the amendments he introduced were a compromise, especially since Common Core is already being taught in schools across the state.
"I can't imagine wiping the slate clean," said Fair, who later added districts have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement the standards.
But the announcement did not go over well with opponents of the measure in the crowd who booed Fair and at times blurted out grumblings that prompted snarls from Statehouse security. Fair said he was not happy with the response but it was to be expected.
Fair added he didn't like that non-South Carolinians wrote the standards and said the modifications he's introduced would fix that. The bill would allow for South Carolina's educators to write new standards, however needed, when they come up for review in 2016.
In spite of the amendments, Fair said he would have preferred to have the subcommittee approve the bill and send it up to the committee level, where more senators would have a say. Grooms echoed Fair's comments.
Grooms said the longer the bill remains at a subcommittee level, the higher the chance the bill may not be fully discussed if it hits the Senate's floor. He added there are other bills that also have priority.
"My fear is that we do nothing this year," said Grooms, adding that bills that don't get approved by at least the House or the Senate by May 1 won't be considered before the session ends. "If you start adding up the weeks, there's not that many weeks between now and then."
Grooms said he wasn't against Fair's amendments to the bill, but added the bill doesn't go far enough. The amendments create a path for the state to evaluate Common Core in 2016, but does not fully repeal it, he said.
Meanwhile, later in the day Sheri Few - a Republican candidate for state Superintendent of Education - spoke at a anti-Common Core rally held at the steps of the Statehouse, along with several speakers and candidates for the seat, including Gary Burgess, Charmeka Childs and Elizabeth Moffly. Sally Atwater and Don Jordan, two other candidates seeking the Republican nomination were not present.
The rally started later than scheduled and had a thin crowd of about 50 people. Though it featured several speakers - a teacher and an anti-Common Core lawmaker from Missouri, among others - it ultimately turned into a platform for the candidates for running for state superintendent.
Some, like Burgess and Few, drew loud praise from the crowd, because they spoke mainly about the need to repeal Common Core. Burgess called the standards the "latest manifestation of the federal government's overreach," while Few promised to make it her mission to pull out Common Core "by its roots," if she is elected and the standards are not repealed this year.
Childs said the standards are an example of "an increasing appetite at the federal level to drive what's happening" in the Palmetto State, but interest from the crowd waned when she spoke of other issues she said need to be addressed in education. Moffly suffered from being the last speaker; she drew a lot less cheering than her counterparts, despite leading off with, "I am very adamantly against Common Core."
About 50 Common Core opponents made an appearance for a rally Wednesday at the Statehouse. The event featured several speakers, including several candidates running for the Republican nomination of Superintendent of Education.×
Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg spoke against the adoption of Common Core standards in South Carolina during a rally on Wednesday at the Statehouse.×
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley spoke against the adoption of Common Core standards in South Carolina.×