More than 800 parents, teachers, and citizens turned out for a filled-to-capacity town hall meeting this past week in Moss Bluff, Louisiana, organized by state Rep. Brett Geymann (R), a vocal opponent of the Common Core standards.
The grassroots effort against the Common Core’s top-down philosophy has turned town halls such as this one, as well as school board meetings, into hot spots in local communities across the nation.
As American Press reported, Geymann planned the meeting so that parents, teachers, and concerned citizens could ask questions and voice their concerns about the controversial standards.
In addition to Geymann, the panel included state Rep. Bob Hensgens (R), state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member Jane Smith, and Calcasieu Parish School Board member Bryan LaRocque.
“What a remarkable exercise in democracy when a town hall meeting packed with parents, grandparents, teachers, and business leaders, all concerned about the loss of state and local control of education,” Geymann told Breitbart News, “come to the floor to speak about the willingness to take back our community and our state from the federal government’s overreach.”
“This meeting shows what happens when you give our citizens a chance to exercise their voice. They demanded we give their children the opportunity to exercise their thoughts, instead of how to think,” Hensgens agreed.
Brandi Sharpton, a parent and local high school math teacher, said she has done her best to work with the Common Core standards, but her research and experience tell her she cannot support the initiative. “As an expert in my field and an involved parent, I feel like it’s important for others to hear my opinion,” Sharpton said. “I’m definitely a supporter of raising standards, but raising them this way will only serve to make the gaps bigger and frustration levels higher.”
Sharpton went on to discuss the Eureka Math curriculum, which the Calcasieu Parish School Board adopted this year and the state Department of Education identifies as a superior quality curriculum. She pointed out that, even with a degree in math education, she would spend hours each night trying to determine how to help her second-grade daughter with her math homework.
“My daughter has an excellent teacher and an excellent school, but this curriculum is developmentally inappropriate,” she said. “My child cries almost every night, and I cannot allow this curriculum and these standards to set a negative tone about learning that will affect her for the rest of her life.”
Local fourth-grade teacher Shawna Dufrene agreed with Sharpton. Having taught math for more than ten years, Dufrene said casting Eureka Math as “the Cadillac” of math curricula is wrong. “I can appreciate a Cadillac, but I know a lemon when I buy a lemon,” Dufrene told the panel.
Tiffany Hebert, a parent and former teacher, said in a statement to Breitbart News, “Highly educated parents with graduate and post-graduate degrees should not have to go to ‘Parent University’ to help their elementary kids do math homework.”
High school history teacher Leslie Truax is concerned about the extent to which education is no longer in the hands of local communities. “We have lost control of our education system on all levels: national, state, and local,” Truax said in a statement to Breitbart News. “From the adoption of the standards to the selection of the curriculum, ‘we the people’ have been left out of the process.”
BESE member Smith, who is a former school superintendent and legislator, sees the turnout as “grassroots folks making a difference,” adding that “the 800 parents and teachers that showed up for this town hall meeting represent what America stands for.”
Geymann’s bill to create a commission to develop a new set of education standards in Louisiana was rejected by the state House Education Committee. He told Breitbart News he would like to see some changes made this coming session now that the grassroots effort has gained momentum.
“The people have spoken loud and clear: Common Core is not acceptable, and they are not giving up the fight,” he said. “I have never been more encouraged and energized about the willingness of the people to hold our elected officials accountable on this issue.”