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Despite rumors, Harrison County BOE not seeking opt out from Common Core State Standards

For as much controversy the Common Core State Standards have brought up, as much confusion has been brought up as well.
 
This was evident at the Harrison County Board of Education's special meeting Wednesday night.
 
In a previous meeting held on June 3, Ken Winkie, a father of children coming through Harrison County schools requested his children be allowed take traditional math courses and still have it count toward graduation.
 
"All I want is for those core credits for that math to be accepted for graduation and the state's already doing that," Winkie said. "It just happens to be my kid's not one of those kids."
 
The two paths involved traditional math and integrated math. In integrated math where instead of a progression such as Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and so on, all of the different disciplines of math are taught together as Math I, Math II and so on.
 
Integrated math has been put into place for public schools in the state. Private schools are not under the jurisdiction of the state board and have elected to keep the traditional pathway for now. Students coming from other states without similar curricula in place will also be allowed to graduate with the credits gained from the traditional path.
 
"They're not doing it for private schools throughout the state, they're not doing it for incoming kids," Winkie said. "If you came from Virginia and you're a senior, you took Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Trig, you're okay, you're going to get credit for that, you can graduate in your class. My daughter can't and she's born and raised in this state."
 
Winkie's issue is not a matter of "one math is better than the other," it is with fairness. Why should kids in private school and from other states be allowed to graduate having taken certain classes when his kids are not allowed, he asked.
 
After the June 3 meeting, the board requested legal counsel Bill Ford draft a letter to the state board on behalf of Winkie.
 
Ford said what he came up with was a request for a waiver from the integrated math requirements from the state board for Winkie's kids and other kids in the county.
 
"If they get the waiver, then this board and staff will have the flexibility to set up whatever way they want to address those math requirements," he said.
 
County boards have the right reserved to request a waiver and Harrison County has done so in the case of classes where students receive both high school and college credits.
 
To send this letter on, the Harrison County Board of Education needed to approve the letter be sent. The board decided to hold a special meeting on Wednesday and released an agenda with Consent Item "F" listed simply as "Waiver Request for Common Core."
 
This is when things became confusing.
 
A local political figure sent a release to media and others on Monday stating his interpretation of the listed item pertaining to Harrison County opting out of the Common Core State Standards all together.
 
Media, WAJR included, and the public took this and came to the 4 p.m. meeting expecting the discussion of opting out to take place. 
 
The news of possible action against the Standards drew the attention of State Board Member Wade Linger who lives in Fairmont. He spoke during delegations in an attempt to dispel some of the criticisms lodged at Common Core.
 
President David Sturm interrupted Linger mid-speech to inform the request only pertained to the letter drafted for Winkie regarding integrated math.
 
According to Linger, integrated math and the Common Core State Standards are two different things.
 
"They would be doing the Math I, Math II regardless of Common Core. [Integrated math and the Common Core State Standards] happened simultaneously and they work together, but you can have one without the other."
 
The board denied sending a press release stating the topic would be a complete opt out of the Standards and all that could be found released directly for the board was the agenda.
 
Two more people were scheduled to talk about Common Core during the delegations and decided to do so after the realization. One citizen spoke for opting out and said it should be something the board considers in the future. One county staff member spoke against opting out, showing how the program had help one unnamed student in the county improve her math scores in one.
 
After public comments, the board did eventually approve the motion to send the letter requesting the waiver by a vote of 4-1, Doug Houge the lone dissenter.
 
The letter will now be sent off but its future is uncertain since Superintendent Susan Collins informed the board the time period for the state board to accept waivers was more than likely closed, but did say there was a possibility it would be taken up.
 
Ultimately, Winkie is seeking answers as to why, as he perceives, his children are being treated differently than kids in private school or kids coming into the state.
 
Linger attempted to answer part of the question, since the state board cannot speak for private schools, by reversing the situation.
 
"You get a job here at the FBI [facility in Clarksburg] or something like that and you got a kid that's a Junior. Do you want to bring them in and have West Virginia say 'your son can't graduate because the state you came from didn't do it the way we did.' How's that fair to that kid? They didn't have the opportunity. His kid has the opportunity to take the new pathway, this kid didn't."
 
The debate over the Common Core State Standards being implemented by the state is a relatively new one because the state board approved it in 2010 and incorporated it slowly. Discussions will increase as the full implementation of the Standards will occur this upcoming school year.