Ascension parents voice concerns about Common Core standards

The Ascension Parish School Board next month will allow public comments regarding the school system’s implementation of national Common Core academic standards.

Board Vice President Lorraine Wimberly asked during Tuesday’s regular board meeting that a public discussion on the matter be placed on the board’s Oct. 1 meeting agenda at the board’s office in Donaldsonville.

However, before the board meeting, a group of about 15 parents gathered outside the doors of the Parish Council chambers to voice their concerns about the standards to Superintendent of Schools Patrice Pujol.

The parents cited numerous issues with the standards, including what they felt was inappropriate reading material assigned by some elementary and junior high teachers.

According to the Louisiana Department of Education’s website, the state adopted Common Core State Standards in 2010 for English language arts and math. The academic standards are based on research and were developed collaboratively by a coalition of teachers, school leaders and education experts from Louisiana and 45 states, the website states.

“The Common Core State Standards define what students need to learn in reading, writing and math in each grade to stay on track for college and careers,” the state Education Department’s website reads.

Jennifer Tuttleton, district director of school improvement, said Ascension Parish has been implementing Common Core curriculum for the past two years, with the state only fully implementing the standards this year.

Arguments against instituting Common Core standards have taken place across the state and nation. In addition to the public comment session, Pujol asked parents to schedule a meeting with her to discuss their concerns.

In other matters, board member Jamie Bourgeois questioned an item allowing St. Amant High School students to miss five days of school to attend a Future Farmers of America, or FFA, national convention next month.

“I truly think it’s irresponsible of the national FFA to conduct a meeting that would require students to miss five days of school,” Bourgeois said. “I think it’s excessive.”

Bourgeois suggested the board review its policies concerning allowable missed days of school.

Also during the meeting, Pujol introduced Marvin Evans as the new principal at Donaldsonville High School. Evans, who previously served as the school’s associate principal, said he was honored to lead the school and promised to work to ensure a quality education for its students.