While Louisiana lawmakers debate Common Core, some parents turn to homeschooling
Generations of Christian Meyers’ family have graduated from Denham Springs High School, which sits across the street from his home about a dozen miles east of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.For years Meyers, 17, thought he would get his diploma from that high school, too.
But after the state decided to adopt the Common Core State Standards in 2010, and began using the curriculum to support it in the public schools, Meyers’ mother withdrew him in favor of homeschooling.
“He was not getting what he would need to be college ready, or at least in my eyes college ready,” Beth Meyers said.
A former high school English teacher, Beth Meyers first became concerned about the standards after looking at her son’s English Language Arts textbook when he started studying the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“I noticed that the whole first unit there was no historical background,” she said. “It didn’t follow a historical timeline which is something I think American literature should do.”
Ever since she pulled her son out of school, Beth Meyers has since joined other parents opposed to the standards to lobby Louisiana lawmakers to get rid of them.
The Common Core State Standards, adopted by most U.S. states over the past five years, were touted as rigorous learning goals and a way to ensure students in participating states were learning the same things at the same grade.
Implementation has been bumpy and voices against the Common Core have grown so loud that a number of states have been considering repealing the standards.
In March, Indiana became the first state to withdraw from Common Core and governors in Oklahoma and South Carolina have since signed bills to do the same. Missouri lawmakers are leaning in that direction as well, having passed a bill requiring the development of new state standards within the next two years.
Louisiana lawmakers have discussed doing the same. Earlier this year the state legislature’s education committee debated several bills that would stop Common Core implementation and create new state standards.
But parents who believe Common Core should stay have not been quiet and a group of them recently visited the state capitol to show their support. They believe Common Core will raise achievement in a state that has chronically been at the low end of nationwide educational assessments.
Yolanda Braxton, a mother of three public school students, helped deliver dozens of petition books containing about six thousand signatures to Governor Bobby Jindal’s office urging him to stay the course. “We do believe in higher standards for our kids and we want better for our kids and we believe our kids can progress,” said Braxton.
The Governor, however, appears to have reconsidered his original backing of Common Core. In a USA Today Op-ed from April, Jindal expressed concern that the standards were leading to a loss of local control in education:
“It’s true that Common Core never started out as a curriculum. It’s even true that it still is not a curriculum. But just as certainly, if the feds dictate the standards of measure, the local curricula will have no choice but to follow. To succeed on Common Core tests, states will have to adopt curricula that teach to the tests. To think otherwise is folly.”
Despite Gov. Jindal’s change of heart and the anti-Common Core activists, the bills did not get out of committee. For the moment at least, the state is keeping the standards.
The PBS NewsHour has partnered with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to explore the differing views in tonight’s American Graduate report.
Watch Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s reporting on the topic: “Decoding Common Core.”