Common Core critics plan public forum

This year’s push to revamp or remove Common Core from Louisiana classrooms unofficially kicks off Thursday night with a public forum.

Terri Timmcke, one of the organizers of the 6 p.m. gathering, said she hopes up to 400 people will attend the three-hour event.

“There are more and more people (who) have solid concerns about Common Core,” said Timmcke, who lives in the New Orleans area.

The tougher standards in reading, writing and math have been adopted by 45 states.

Backers contend the new academic goals will improve student performance, especially in historically low-performing states such as Louisiana.

Opponents say the standards need more review and represent intrusion by private interests and the federal government.

The gathering Thursday night takes places at Crossfire Auditorium, 8919 World Ministry Ave., off Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

Admission is $10 in advance and $20 at the door.

The agenda includes six speakers and a question-and-answer session.

“One of the things we are going to do is not just talk about getting rid of Common Core but where do we go from here,” Timmcke said.

“We want a good education for our children,” she said. “We want to control it.”

The event takes place just more than two weeks before the start of the 2014 legislative session, with Common Core expected to be a key topic.

The legislative session starts on March 10.

The new standards, which take full effect for the 2014-15 school year, spell out what students are supposed to know at various grades.

Louisiana is one of 18 states that will test students next spring through a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

However, some states have dropped out of the group, including Oklahoma and Alabama, and officials in other states have considered doing so in favor of developing their own testing methods.

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said the national standards have turned into a political football and prompted second-guessing on whether the academic goals are appropriate.

“I think that is why you are seeing in other states, other stakeholders in other states, taking a step back to say is this really the direction to go,” Richard said.

One of the speakers at the rally will be Emmett McGroarty, of the American Principles Project, a Washington, D.C. group that says it backs policies for “the dignity of the person.”

McGroarty said in a radio interview that Common Core “is a bad idea that just keeps getting worse” and one pushed by private trade groups to advance certain agendas.

Another speaker, Terrence Moore, of Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Mich., has been quoted as saying the new standards will remove great stories of the American people “and replace them with the stories that fit the progressive liberal narrative of the world.”

James Milgram, a third panelist and one who was involved in reviewing the initial drafts of the math standards, told Parents Across America that, by the end of the fifth grade, the material covered in arithmetic and algebra is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high-achieving nations.

Others on the schedule are Sandra Slotsky, a member of a committee that reviewed the standards; Jane Robbins, also of the American Principles Project; and James Stergios of the Pioneer Institute, a Boston privately funded research group that advocates individual liberty and limited government.