When around 800 folks show up at a public meeting, the politicos tend to sit up and take notice.
They did recently when that kind of turnout occurred in Moss Bluff, a suburb of Lake Charles, where state Rep. Brett Geymann has been agitating against Common Core school standards.
He has been a consistent opponent of the standards adopted in 2010 for Louisiana schools, and he hardly can be faulted for that; he certainly has more credibility for his position than the flip-floppers like Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was so strongly for Common Core before he was against it.
There’s even been some flip-flopping in the other direction, as U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a candidate for governor, seemed to be backing the anti-Core agitation before he saw the light, a modern St. Paul on his Damascene journey to the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge.
Yet the Moss Bluff meeting was the high point of a series of forums around the state convened by opponents of the standards. Other turnouts haven’t been as large, although there are parishes — including St. Tammany — where many parents remain upset about the new standards.
Still, we wonder if there are any really substantial arguments that have been advanced since the 2014 Legislature — the session in which anti-Common Core bills by Geymann and others were rejected.
For all the folderol about “Commie Core” and “Obamacore,” the script for the opposition is to question its utility, even as Common Core has become the standard in thousands of Louisiana classrooms.
True, higher academic standards are no joke, requiring more of students and of their teachers. True, it’s harder to grasp and to teach, the sort of theory-based instruction that seeks to drill into students not just the answer to the math questions but the how and why of the answer.
But is there really a widespread revolt against the standards in classrooms?
In the second year of full implementation of Common Core, and with new tests coming along aligned with the Core’s requirements, the argument for rejection has little traction based on what is happening in Louisiana classrooms.
Teachers may feel themselves the most put-upon of professions, as we as a society seek for them to change the world. And over the course of only a few years, we as a state are asking them to change their teaching goals, although not perhaps necessarily their techniques.
All that said, there have been teachers involved at every stage of the decision-making process to bring Common Core to Louisiana students, and surveys by the state Department of Education have not borne out a widespread antipathy to them.
“You don’t hear the voices of the teachers and principals and superintendents who are excited about the improvements they’re seeing and enthusiastic about the fact that the new standards allow educators to dig deeper into reading, writing and math and help students gain a greater mastery,” commented the Council for a Better Louisiana.
As in states across the nation, is the political agitation against Common Core outside the schoolhouse doors validated at the chalkboards inside?