It doesn’t require a lot of digging to find out where Richard Woods stands on one of America’s biggest education issues. In bold, red letters, his campaign material says, “COMMON SENSE OVER COMMON CORE.”
Woods, locked in a July 22 runoff for the post of state school superintendent with Mike Buck, voiced his opposition to federal intervention in the education process while addressing Tuesday’s Thomas County Republican Party meeting at The Plaza. He thinks learning standards should be set at the local level and not by Washington bureaucrats.
“I’m not here to tell you how to run your school system,” he said. “I’m here to help you run your school system.
Woods, an Irwin County business owner and former teacher, has opposed Common Core since it was conceived. He ran against it in 2010 when he barely lost the race for the GOP superintendent nod to John Barge.
“I think it’s very clear from the standpoint of the U.S. Constitution that involvement in education is not one of the enumerated powers of the federal government,” Woods said. “I think we should be on guard not to allow the federal government to dictate what we can and can’t do.”
Georgia adopted Common Core through a mechanism called Race to the Top, a contest inspired by the U.S. Department of Education that made more than $4 billion available to states that agreed to meet standards set by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
“I think we should personalize education, not standardize education,” Woods said.
Woods said shunning Common Core would result in less testing and more teaching in Georgia classrooms. He wants instructors to teach to the child and not one-size-fits-all tests.
Another benefit to dumping Common Core, he said, would be less paperwork and repetitive documentation that is required by the federal government.
Woods wants to get back to the basics, adding that reading is essential to student success.
“My passion is that Georgia be the No. 1 literate state in the union,” he said.
Woods also stressed the importance of another subject.
“We need to make sure that kids understand and know our nation’s history, not the progressive era or not ideology, but what our founding fathers expected — how they came about creating this nation and the rules and laws that govern it,” he said.
Woods believes knowledge of the U.S. Constitution is vital to the nation’s future.
“The Constitution is not a long document, but it is a powerful document and our kids need to know that,” he said. “What I see in Washington, D.C., right now, a lot of it is unconstitutional. We need to make sure our branches of government follow their respective roles.”
Additionally, Woods said personal finance skills should be taught. He also suggested an expansion of course offerings and graduation tracks.
In closing, Woods said he would have the Georgia Department of Education audited.
“That’s an audit of personnel, finances and regulatory,” he said. “We want to peel back the onion a little bit and see how we can be more efficient and redirect the resources into the classroom at the local level where they need to be.”