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Parental protest

Sarah Carson (far left) and her Stockwell Place Elementary second graders were some of the parents and students who protested the Common Core curriculum Monday at the Bossier Parish School Board’s central office in Benton Monday.

Parents, students take a stand against Common Core State Standards

BENTON — Signs in hand, Bossier Parish moms and their children walked up to the Bossier Parish School Board Central Office Monday to take a stand against what they see as the scourge of education.

Parents were protesting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) curriculum as part of a nationwide effort. Implemented in 2010, CCSS aims to improve educational academic standards for core subjects, including English language arts (reading and writing), math, science, social studies, foreign languages, physical education and health.

“We’re here to stand up for our children and the education system. We don’t believe it is the right fit — it is a one size fits all approach — and we don’t believe the standards are developmentally appropriate. There are so many analytical ways they are teaching our little children that don’t take into account individuality and it’s crushing their spirit, making them feel stupid and changing their outlook on education,” said Sarah Carson, Stockwell Subdivision resident and parent of second graders.

The protest also included a local social media movement to have participating parents pull their kids out of schools for the day.

“Our children are learning a very valuable lesson about standing up for your rights. We have some very questionable content that our children are being subjected to, particularly at the middle and high school levels,” said Dawn Thomas, Stockwell Subdivision resident and parent.

Participants were protesting for evidence-based curriculum that is locally controlled and that does not require “data mining our children.”

“We want the curriculum like it was. There are some things that need to be fixed in our schools, but this is not it. The homework is bogus and the content is ridiculous,” said Bobbiann English, Lakewood Subdivision resident and parent of a third grader.

Scott Smith, assistant superintendent for Bossier Parish Schools, acknowledged parents have “legitimate concerns,” and his district also has concerns about CCSS.

“Even our school system has concerns on implementation. When I talk to principals, I ask them how the teachers are doing and what their opinions are. I hear over, and over, and over again that is too fast, too soon, and they need more time to implement this in our schools,” Smith said.

Designed to promote more rigorous testing and relevant standards, the new academic benchmarks are based on research and were developed collaboratively by a coalition of teachers, school leaders and education experts from Louisiana and 45 states.

It is a national program that was adopted by the state and implemented individually by each parish in Louisiana.

“It’s taking control from teachers, (removing their ability) to creatively teach. We have great teachers and a great school, but we want the curriculum to be kept with them,” said Carson. “Anything that is implemented at a parish level needs to be put in front of parents who know best for their children. Too many big businesses and politicians are creating this curriculum.”

“We stand here for teachers, too. There are several teachers who are very unhappy,” added Thomas.

State Representative Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, was on hand to hear from the parents.

“It’s important to listen to people’s concerns and get the correct information to people. It’s my obligation to listen to people, so I wanted to come out here first hand to hear what these parents have to say,” Thompson said. “Louisiana, for too long, has been at the bottom of educational standards. We need more rigorous testing, but we need to do it in a way that is fair to our teachers and get a correct timeline to implement a curriculum that works best, here.”

Smith also said he would like to see the correct version of CCSS for the school system. He proposed seeing if Bossier schools could have the ability to take time and “absorb the vast amount” of curriculum and “tweak” CCSS, if necessary.

“We need time to implement it correctly. Superintendent D.C. Machen is in Baton Rouge, today, meeting with State Superintendent John White and other principals about Common Core State Standards,” said Smith.

However, for some parents, waiting may not be an option.

“We chose Stockwell (Subdivision) to live because it has an excellent school. But if Common Core is not removed, I’ll move to Texas or homeschool my children,” said Thomas.

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