Activists speak out against Common Core
BATON ROUGE - Anti-Common Core activists attending a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Thursday made outlandish claims about the standards, with one saying they were opposed due to believed "Muslim bias" in textbooks associated with assessment tests connected to the standards.
Common Core and its assessment exam, the PARCC test, were both on BESE's agenda Thursday, and a number of anti-Common Core demonstrators were in attendance to voice their concerns and call for the state to delay implementation or allow students to opt out of taking the test.
One activist said they believed the standards were secretly backed by Arabs. Another claimed it was part of a globalization conspiracy, and demanded "arrest me" after she was asked to wrap up her comments.
Superintendent of Education John White said at the meeting that students whose parents opt them out of Common Core assessment tests should not face penalties, and neither should the schools they attend. This is the first year the test will be administered, and comes after five years of work to put the standards in place in Louisiana.
The board voted 7-4 against efforts to waive penalties for schools with students who refuse to take the test. They did agree to collect participation information after the exams, which will be administered later this month.
West Baton Rouge Parish Schools held meetings Thursday morning for discussions between school administrators and parents who want to opt their children out of the PARCC exam. The exams figure into teacher and school performance scores, which can affect how much state funding they receive.
The Common Core state education standards were developed by a group of volunteers from different states, including Louisiana. Parents and some educators voiced concerns that they were still not prepared after the five-year rollout of the standards in Louisiana. Governor Bobby Jindal supported the standards until 2014, when he joined national conservative opposition and claimed they represented a federal takeover of state education, a claim which has since been debunked. The governor is seeking a court order to halt use of the standards, while White and BESE President Chas Roemer are fighting to keep them.
Much of the debate has come down to whether Common Core affects curriculum, or is just a common set of standards states can use to compare their respective educational progress. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said back in 2013 that critics of Common Core have been mistakenly using one term for the other, saying standards are goals which states typically set for what students should know by a certain age, while curriculum is what teachers specifically use to help students reach those goals. Duncan said that curriculum is set on the local level, not by the federal government or by Common Core.
News 2's Mark Armstrong will have more developments from the BESE meeting on WBRZ tonight.