They met at Cherokee Cattle Co. off of Canton Road in east Cobb with about 50 people in attendance. The three school board members described the history, implementation and future of Common Core in their school districts.
The forum was held by a local chapter of the Northwest Georgia 9/12 project. The conservative, nonpartisan group says on its website that it “strives to uphold America’s Founding Principles through education, service and political action. We promote states’ rights, the Constitution, limited government and the rule of law.”
The group strongly opposes the continued implementation of Common Core in Georgia.
“Teaching and learning will become the by-products of Common Core,” Angelucci said.
Angelucci said she is concerned Common Core standards are “sub-standard, developmentally inappropriate standards” that hold teachers to impossible evaluation standards and over-tests students and teachers alike.
She is worried that the total cost of Common Core reaches far beyond the $7.5 million math textbooks the Cobb Board of Education voted not to order this school year. Angelucci said teachers were tired of having their curriculums changed every few years.
“Teachers are tired of the rug getting pulled out from under them. I know our teachers are tired, and it’s not fair to evaluate them based on these standards,” she said.
Marlow called Common Core “the largest unfunded federal mandate in the history of the United States.”
Many present at the forum, including all three speakers, said the standards represent an overreach of the federal government, and a loss of local control.
Implemented at the state level in 2010
In 2010, the state Board of Education voted to adopt Common Core, which attempts to create a consistent set of baseline standards across the country, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, corestandards.org.
Then Gov. Sonny Perdue was one of the leading advocates for the initiative, said Matt Cardoza, Georgia Department of Education spokesman.
Georgia is one of 48 states that initially adopted the Common Core Standards. Five states –– Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Nebraska and Minnesota –– chose not to participate in Common Core, according corestandards.org.
States such as Indiana and Alabama have been considering withdrawing from the program.
In the fall of 2012, the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards for math and English language arts were implemented in Georgia classrooms, Cardoza said.
In June, the State Committee of the Georgia Republican Party unanimously adopted a resolution that requested the state withdraw from participating in the Common Core Standards and the national tests associated with them.
Many felt the system lacked the proof that it was an effective set of standards that would enable Georgia to compare itself nationally and internationally, said Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
Lawmakers also said they thought Common Core shifted control of schools from the local and state level to the federal government.
“Whoever owns the test owns the curriculum,” Tippins said. “If the federal government owns the test, they will own the curriculum. There has to be some call for proof before we adopt Common Core.”
Gov. Nathan Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge formally pulled out of the Common Core testing mechanism in July, Cardoza said.
In August, Deal requested that the state Board of Education do an evaluation to compare the new Common Core Standards in math and English to the former Georgia Performance Standards, which were in place before Common Core was implemented in 2012.
The state Board of Education met last week to organize how they will follow Deal’s requests, Cardoza said.
Until these studies are complete, there is disagreement as to how well the new Common Core Standards stand up to the old Georgia Performance Standards.
Whose standards are the best?
Angelucci said teachers are tired of the state constantly changing their curriculum. She worried that the new standards would discourage teachers to teach beyond what the test requires they teach.
She also said that a study done by the Fordham Institute in 2010 evaluated the Georgia Performance Standards, and “gave Georgia’s Performance Standards an A minus in math and a B plus in English language arts. These grades ranked Georgia sixth best in the nation in math and seventh in English.”
Angelucci said she wants to find a curriculum that would ensure college and career readiness and make Georgia students competitive nationally and internationally, long after graduating from public schools.
State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), who filed legislation earlier this year to cut Georgia’s ties with Common Core, has the same wishes.
“We need to have absolute control as a state,” Ligon said. “Our voice is diluted in national standards. … We truly want to have top-notch standards in the state of Georgia.”
Parents weigh in
Cobb County parent Cindy Lawrence, who has two children in high school, attended the forum with Angelucci on Monday out of curiosity. She wanted to learn more about the Common Core Standards, she said.
At the end of the forum, she said, “I am convinced it’s the extension of the progressive agenda. You know it’s going on, but how do you combat it?” she asked, breaking into tears. Lawrence said she knew it was, “hugely bad,” and was overwhelmed by the scope of the government’s reach.
Another parent, Trish Hay, who has one child in Cobb County Schools, said that Common Core Standards are, “On the road to federal control.”
Angelucci urged those in attendance to contact their local legislators to let them know how they felt. She also advised the audience to become involved, and connected with others in their community, and communities across the country who were opposed to Common Core Standards.
But before doing any work, Angelucci advised everyone to, “do their own research and decide for themselves,” where they stand on the issue.
See Monday’s MDJ for coverage of a Common Core town hall conducted by state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), a supporter of the standards.