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Activists Say Common Core Review Process Restricts Parents

Grassroots activists fighting against the Common Core standards in Louisiana say the review process underway is being led principally by Common Core supporters who would like to restrict parents’ involvement in the process.

The process is supposed to determine whether the nationally unpopular standards remain in place in their state.

Though two recent national annual polls have demonstrated that support for the Common Core standards is declining, The Advocate reported last week that 84 percent of the comments on the English Language Arts standards and 81 percent of comments on the math standards that were received through the Louisiana Student Standards for English & Math review portal favor Common Core.

The annual Education Next poll on school reform found that national support for Common Core has continued its descent from 65 percent in 2013, to 53 percent in 2014, and now to 49 percent this year. Additionally, the annual PDK/Gallup poll found that 54 percent of respondents opposed teacher’s use of the Common Core standards in America’s classrooms.

The Louisiana online standards review portal has the following instructions:

The standards in this application are arranged by subject and grade level. To review a standard, click the plus sign beside the standard to see more detailed information. You may provide feedback on standards by clicking the Icon: Provide feedback for this standard icon to the right of each standard.

In your evaluation of each standard, you will have the following options:

  1. I agree with the Standard as written. (comments are optional)
  2. The Standard should be in a different grade level. (grade selection is required)
  3. The Standard should be broken up into several, more specific Standards. (suggested rewrite is required)
  4. The Standard should be rewritten. (suggested rewrite is required)
  5. Delete this Standard. (comments are required)

“The Review Portal is too difficult for the average parent without an educator’s assistance since there is so much jargon, redundancy, and education speak,” Louisiana parent activist Caryn Jenkins tells Breitbart News. “Asking a parent to understand what a large percentage of the standards mean is like asking a teacher to understand physician orders in a medical chart.”

Jenkins said many parents are intimidated by having to review education standards, and the time required to participate in the review process is equally daunting.

“Tell me how many parents or even teachers can attend a midweek meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a school day?” she asks. “As long as John White and the majority Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) are bought by business and industry, our children have no chance.”

Approximately 700 people used the online portal to register their views, and 68 percent of those respondents identified themselves as educators, reports The Advocate.

According to “compromise” legislation that passed the state legislature in May, a review board is to develop the state’s new standards, though opponents of the nationalized Common Core express concern that the state will end up with a “rebrand” since members of the board had been recommended by their school districts and chosen by pro-Common Core state superintendent John White.

The proposed standards are scheduled to be adopted by BESE at its March 2016 meeting, two months after a new governor and state legislature have been sworn in.

Louisiana state Rep. Brett Geymann (R), who has led the charge against the Common Core standards in the state legislature, tells Breitbart News, “The online reviews were mostly in favor of Common Core and it is clear those educators and groups in support of keeping the standards did an excellent job of using the online process as opportunity to express their support.”

“The Standards Review committee should use caution in moving forward with the assumption those reviews reflect the support among all educators and the general population,” he warned, however. “The sample size was quite small as only approximately 460 of the 46000 educators responded. Of the Institution of Higher Education Faculty that responded, 90 percent suggested changing the math standards but it was also a small sample size.”

Geymann also drew attention to the discrepancy between results of the recent national polls and those of the Louisiana standards review.

Parent Terri Timmcke tells Breitbart News the legislature’s most pro-Common Core lawmakers, Sen. Conrad Appel and Rep. Stephen Carter – both chairmen of the education committees in their respective chambers – “have successfully blocked all legislation attempting to remove the Common Core initiative from Louisiana, are the most vociferous critics of parents pleading for a better education for their children than Common Core provides, and steadfastly refuse to consider any facts presented regarding the deficiencies of Common Core.”

Timmcke observes that both legislators were “supporters” of the “Unicorns are Not Real” movement that sought to ridicule and demean parents and legislators who oppose Common Core.

Dr. Keith Leger, a program manager and education organizer for the pro-Common Core Stand for Children Louisiana, is a member of the standards review committee.

When Breitbart News reached out for comment from Leger, he initially responded, “I’m curious to know how you’ve determined that I am a ‘supporter of common core.’ I am pressed for time, but will attempt to provide comments if possible,” but then never provided any comments on the stark difference between the national poll results of support for Common Core versus the reported results of the Louisiana online review.

Leger tweeted last week:

 

“The legislative agreement was done with good intentions and a vision of this committee having a transparent and fair process that would deal with the obvious areas of concern,” Geymann said. “Anything short of that will likely result in a contentious legislative spring session with a new governor and legislature that are surely representative of the population that opposes common core. It is too early for a victory dance for those supporting a rebrand.”

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