Common Core too rigorous, educators and parents tell Livingston board

Concerned educators and parents in Livingston Parish voiced their concerns Monday to the Livingston Parish School Board about what they called far too rigorous educational standards required by Common Core.

The School Board hosted a forum as part of its policy and curriculum committee meeting Monday night.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a nationwide education movement that sets more rigorous standards with student-learning benchmarks for each grade. Standardized test scores are tied to that progress.

Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in 2010 to adopt the standards.

The new standards are set to take full effect in Louisiana in the 2014-15 school year, but Livingston Parish already has implemented many of Common Core’s standards in its curriculum to prepare for that change, Superintendent John Watson said.

Watson said the state Department of Education initially provided transition schedules for Common Core for school districts around the state.

In January, the state scrapped the plan and told school districts that their teachers would be able to write their curriculums on their own.

Watson said he didn’t want teachers to be out in the cold having to write their own curricula, so he decided to form special teams to write new parishwide curricula that followed Common Core standards.

Beth Meyers, a parent and former educator in Livingston Parish, told the board she is worried about the books her son is using in his English classes.

She is worried her son’s current path in English classes will not prepare him for college.

“I know you kind of have your hands tied in a way that when you are told that you are being ‘empowered,’ you’re really not,” Meyers said of Common Core.

Judy Carr, a kindergarten teacher at Eastside Elementary School and member of the curriculum writing committee, said now that the new curriculum has been implemented, she is seeing her students struggle to comprehend the new rigorous material.

“You don’t take a 6-month-old and I’m going to stand you up every day and say, ‘Walk,’ ” she said. “If I do it over and over again, is that 6-month-old going to be ready to walk? No.”

Watson took blame for the parents’ and teachers’ frustrations over the quick curriculum changes and said the school system is working through the issues the best it can.

Watson criticized the state Department of Education, saying they are trying to hold school districts accountable for their test scores and performances but have abandoned writing curricula.

“We’ve kind of been left out there hanging too, and it’s not the first time in the last three years,” Watson said.

State Rep. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, a former Livingston school superintendent, said anyone with concerns about Common Core needs to contact their legislators.

Board member Sid Kinchen, a former educator, said the only way the parish could make changes to Common Core is the 2015 election, when the governorship will become open.

“That’s what going to do away with Common Core,” he said.

Board member Buddy Mincey Jr. said board members are as frustrated as anybody else about the new Common Core standards.

“Chas Roemer, you need to light him up,” he said. “Superintendent John White, get on him.”

ASCENSION SCHOOLS: In Ascension Parish, School Superintendent Patrice Pujol will deliver a presentation at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on that public system’s implementation of the Common Core standards at B.C. Alwes auditorium, 501 Lee Ave., Donaldsonville.

During the meeting, the parish School Board also is expected hear from parents who have concerns about Common Core.