Ascension parents get their say on Common Core

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol gives a presentation to the public on the Common Core standards, and the parish's implementation of them, on Tuesday at the B.C. Alwes Auditorium in Donaldsonville. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol gives a presentation to the public on the Common Core standards, and the parish's implementation of them, on Tuesday at the B.C. Alwes Auditorium in Donaldsonville.

Parents aired an array of concerns Tuesday about Common Core educational standards before the Ascension Parish School Board and called on the board to issue a resolution telling the state to withdraw from the national standards.

While some likened Common Core to an Obamacare-style federal intrusion into people’s lives and their parenting choices with socialist and even communist overtones, others criticized the public school system and state for not providing enough guidance to teachers in how to apply the new national benchmarks.

“Common Core is another attempt toward socialism that will destroy the family structure through indoctrination of school children where parents are replaced with the state as head of their family. It is happening right here right now,” said Jill Boss, a Prairieville parent, tothe packed auditorium at the B.C. Alwes Auditorium in Donaldsonville.

Common Core, a series of yearly goals of what students are expected to learn, were developed by the National Governors Association, the umbrella group for state superintendents of education, in an effort to boost the rigor of classroom in face of global competition.

How students achieve those standards, including curriculum and textbooks, is up to individual school districts, backers say.

The standards, which have been gradually implemented since 2011 in math and English, have drawn fire this year as the full roll-out has reached all grades, resulting in calls from some to pull out of the standards adopted by 44 other states.

Prior to the public comments, Superintendent Patrice Pujol, who also is president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents and supports the Common Core push, delivered a presentation on the school system’s efforts over the past several years.

She argued Common Core is a high standard that would make students career- and college-ready but also emphasized the day-to-day curriculum used to achieve Common Core standards was under local control.

“As far as the curriculum is concerned, teachers made the decision as to how to implement the standards in their classroom,” she said.

Several teachers and a principal also spoke after Pujol about how the new standards help students grasp concepts deeply and easily.

The School Board took no formal action on the issue Tuesday night.

Parents also presented specific examples of book choices and test questions they claimed were age-inappropriate or subtly contained an agenda to shape their children’s outlook.

Christine Hymel, 36, of St. Amant, pointed to a question on her child’s test that asked her to fill in the blank for the follow statement: “My mom always ….. me to clean my room.”

Hymel said the possible answers were “asks,” “nags” and “tells.”

She said her child, taught to respect her elders, answered “asks” and was told the correct answer was “nags,” which Hymel said taught her child disrespect for her elders.

“No one is addressing the inappropriate, immoral, morbid narcissism that is being instilled in my children, your children, their children. It is wrong,” Hymel said.