Supers want consistent standards

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

While new state school superintendent Michael Sentance reviews and studies Alabama’s variation of Common Core standards, local superintendents say they aren’t so concerned about Common Core as they are providing the best possible education for their students.

Sentance opposed Common Core standards while he was in Massachusetts, but because those standards were deemed weaker than the state’s current.

Sentance started his job earlier this month and said he needed time to study and see if the state standards were working.

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said system administrators are watching this issue closely.

“We know there is some discussion going on about it,” he said. “Mr. Sentance has said before he is not a proponent and we have received some information from the state department that the standards are being examined.”

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart agreed.

“My assumption is that everything will be under review,” he said. “I have confidence that Mr. Sentance will be receptive to the ideas of school leaders around the state and if changes need to be made, I think they will be made.”

Smithart said his personal opinion is that standards should not be the focus.

“If students in Alabama are not achieving at the same levels as students across the nation, there are really only two possible reasons. One, our children are not as intelligent as students across the nation,” he said. “I think that’s absurd. Children in Alabama can stand toe-to-toe with students from anywhere. The most realistic reason is that we don’t provide necessary resources.

Smithart said he hopes the state can find ways to provide children with that they need without getting caught up in political agendas that have nothing to do with education.

“Math is not political, evil perhaps, but not political,” he said. “We have to expect more from our children and in turn more from ourselves by providing the resources.”

Driver said he thinks what a lot of superintendents are concerned with is changing standards again.

“We have these and we have them adopted,” he said. “We have transitioned to these and are getting acclimated to them. Whatever they finally come up with, I want it to be good standards and to leave them in place. We want some consistency. Having to continuously transition is hard for us to keep up with. It’s hard on our students, too.”

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said he agreed.

“We want what is best for our students,” he said.