Leaders of the state’s review of the Common Core academic standards Friday disputed criticism that the study is riddled with problems.
Regina Sanford, chairwoman of the 26-member panel overseeing the process, said state lawmakers, school board members and others who have watched the meetings came away impressed.
“They do not feel that we are just rubber stamping something,” Sanford told reporters. “We are truly vetting every standard that needs to be revised.”
Earlier this week, state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, chief sponsor of the law that sparked the review, and others complained about how the committees are working.
They said the panels lack key information needed for a thorough check, including test questions used in March and May; that small groups are using public comment portals to make it appear the Common Core enjoys wide support; and that the committee rules are too rigid.
“There is no reason to participate with a committee whose outcome has been predetermined by the lack of data and resources from the Department of Education,” the group said in a news release issued on Wednesday.
Leaders of the review disagreed.
“I am kind of offended that people are coming back and questioning the work that is done, saying it is really not done,” said Laurie Carlton, who chairs the subcommittee that is reviewing English/language arts benchmarks for grades three through 12.
Carlton said hundreds of educators have worked tirelessly on the standards in reading, writing and math.
She said they are reading reviews and sifting through hundreds of public comments.
“These are educators who really want to dive into the standards,” she said.
Geymann was the chief sponsor of a bill approved earlier this year that required the standards to be reviewed.
The Standards Review Committee will make recommendations to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE will then make its own suggestions on how the standards should be changed, and those recommendations will be studied by two legislative committees and the next governor.
Supporters of the benchmarks have predicted the hearings will lead to only modest changes, while critics contend wholesale modifications are needed.
Backers of the Geymann bill hailed it as a major compromise, but new arguments suggest the controversy is far from settled.
The lawmakers contend criticism of the standards is being muzzled, backers are essentially guilty of “ballot stuffing” in the public comments section and the review is being rushed.
Charlotte Boothe, who chairs the review of the math standards for grades three through 12, disagreed.
Boothe said her subcommittee spent 10 hours Thursday in Crowley and only finished recommendations for grades three and four.
“That is an indication of the fact we are not rushing this process,” she said.
Earlier this week, some teachers said Geymann should have been on hand this week to watch the process.
“The work is authentic; it is very engaging,” Sanford said.
Geymann, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits, said he has spent countless hours in Common Core meetings.
Others who joined the criticism included state Reps. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville; Cameron Henry, R-Metairie; and J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs.
The three Common Core review subcommittees — each has 29 members — met earlier this week in Bossier City, Alexandria and Crowley.
Sanford is assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the St. Tammany Parish school district.
Carlton oversees professional development for secondary education in Plaquemines Parish.
Boothe is the middle school math curriculum specialist in Rapides Parish.
Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.