Why Common Core opponents passed out red crawfish dolls to Louisiana lawmakers today _lowres

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Amy Lemoine, left, and Desiree Hanvy, both of Lafayette, count out stuffed crawfish Wednesday in the House Speaker's Office prior to distributing them each representative and senator to make a point about their issues with Common Core. (Legislative procedures require approval from the Speaker of the House before anything can be placed on the chamber desks of lawmakers.)

Not to be outdone by pink unicorns, Common Core opponents Wednesday distributed stuffed red crawfish to state lawmakers in arguing that the academic standards are riddled with problems.

“Our campaign is that crawfish are real and so are the problems with Common Core,” said Amy Lemoine, who lives in Lafayette.

“Parents across the state as well as educators have done their homework, done our research,” Lemoine said. “We have come across some real problems with Common Core based on facts, research, expert opinions. We just want our legislators to have those facts presented to them.”

The move follows a marketing campaign last week in the Legislature by the pro-Common Core group Alliance for Better Classrooms.

Tags on those stuffed animals said, “Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core State Standards.”

The unicorn campaign enraged some Common Core critics.

State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, one of the Legislature’s top opponents of the standards, called the message behind the campaign insulting to parents.

Geymann also cited the unicorns earlier this week when he tried to convince the House not to send his anti-Common Core bill to the potentially hostile House Education Committee.

The move failed.

Backers of the crawfish campaign said that, unlike the unicorn movement, theirs does not rely on the support of big companies.

“This is not professional,” Lemoine said. “This is moms. We have pulled our talents together.”

Lemoine said mothers living in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, the Lake Charles area, Alexandria, Shreveport and elsewhere are behind the effort.

She said some were at home sending emails to House and Senate members urging them to check out their blog: www. crawfisharereal.blogspot.com

The battle of the stuffed animals is the opening salvo in a legislative session where efforts to repeal Common Core are expected to be a key topic.

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said last week that it will be early May before the bills are heard.

The same panel killed a variety of proposals to shelve the standards last year.

However, Gov. Bobby Jindal has made repeal one of his priorities this time.

Common Core, which has been adopted in more than 40 states, represents new academic benchmarks in reading, writing and math.

Backers say they will improve student achievement and make students more competitive with their peers worldwide.

Opponents contend the standards are top-heavy with federal interference in local school issues.

The standards are part of daily fare in public school classrooms statewide. Nearly 320,000 students in grades three through eight were tested on Common Core last month.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/