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Speakers oppose Common Core education standards

Opponents say classroom standards lack rigor, are tied to social issues

POSTED: January 14, 2014 12:14 a.m.

Nearly 100 residents attended a meeting Monday in Gainesville with speakers against education standards that have been adopted by multiple states in the country, including Georgia.

“Confronting the Common Core,” presented by Concerned Women for America of Georgia in partnership with the American Principles Project, portrayed the standards as academically weak while being invasive of student privacy.

Common Core opponent Terrence Moore, a professor at Hillsdale College in Michigan, was one of the speakers, giving multiple examples of how he believes the standards are being used to address social issues, such as gay marriage or religion.

He used American author Kate Chopin and her work in the late 1800s as an example.

“‘The Story of an Hour’ is one in which this character, whose name is Mrs. Mallard, is told that her husband has just died in an accident,” Moore said.

“And what Mrs. Mallard does is she tears up for a couple of seconds, she does a little bit of grieving and she goes into a room alone. She stretches out her arms and she looks at the future and sees it will belong to her and her alone. And it gives her a sense of independence and freedom.

“Now the students ... are asked what they think of this,” he continued.

“They’re not asked how they’d like to be the husband of this woman. ... There’s much to-do made about how this was such a strong and bold statement for women at the turn of the century, and how (Chopin) refused to make her female characters any less vigorous and so on.”

Moore said the teacher-guided text suggests a conversation between the teacher and students to reflect on the negative aspects of 19th-century marriages.

“Weren’t 19th-century marriages sort of, like, marriages?” he asked. “So this is doing a little bit more than reading literature. This is actually calling into question the fundamental institution that supports civil society, which is the family.”

The Chopin lesson is found in the Prentice Hall Literature textbook for eighth-grade students.

Moore also told the audience the standards require only certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution to be taught; at the middle-school level, they require the preamble and First Amendment to be taught.

“Not the Second Amendment,” he said. “Not the 10th Amendment.”

The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and the 10th Amendment states powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

At the high school level, he said, the standards recommend reading the Bill of Rights, but not the Constitution.

The Common Core website, corestandards.org, states “the standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.”

The history of the Common Core in Georgia began under former Gov. Sonny Perdue. The standards were initiated by the National Governors Association, co-chaired by Perdue at the time, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The standards were adopted by the Georgia Board of Education in 2010, and have been supported by Gov. Nathan Deal.

According to the website, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

It’s not mandatory for a state to adopt Common Core, but the incentive is there by tying it to competitive Race to the Top grants.

“If you remember the infamous stimulus bill of 2009, it created a $4.35 million earmark for the U.S. Department of Education,” speaker Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project said. “(The Department of Education) used that to create the Race to the Top competitive grant program for the states.

“To (get that) money, we had to agree to adopt Common Core, to adopt a national test that goes with Common Core and to expand our student data systems.”

Since then, Georgia has withdrawn from the consortium to design the tests for Common Core, opting to instead create tests in-state.

Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, encouraged attendees to support Senate bills 167 and 203, which would effectively withdraw the state from Common Core and from entering into any commitments relating to the federal Race to the Top program.

A Feb. 4 rally at the Capitol in Atlanta is being planned.


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