By Nick Nunn staff writer
An informational meeting on the Common Core State Standards for education was held at the Morgan County Recreation Department gym last Saturday, Feb. 8. Five presenters, including Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Pennington, spoke out against the Common Core program.
The Common Core program involves a set of standards for mathematics and English language arts, by which students in participating states are measured.
As of now, 45 of the 50 states have accepted the Common Core program, with Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Nebraska, and Minnesota being the exceptions. The first speaker was Meg Norris, a former East Hall Middle School teacher, who is now a doctoral candidate in education. Norris stated that, after 18 months of teaching, she “gave up [her] position to fight for the kids” against Common Core.
She further claimed that there are thousands of teachers, who would also resign from their positions if that were a financial possibility for them. Norris pointed out that the standards were written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and that “not one teacher wrote Common Core.”
She said that her doctoral studies involve investigating the effects of the stress that Common Core places on students and the physical effects of stress on the brain. Criticizing the “standardization” of students, Norris said that the stress of Common Core was “destroying” her students at East Hall.
“They didn’t understand why they didn’t understand,” said Norris.
She also claimed that the standards only prepare students to enter two-year schools, but decried Common Core’s insistence on rigorous learning.
“Rigor… doesn’t belong in the classroom,” said Norris. “Learning is a voluntary action.” “I don’t care what it costs to pull it back,” continued Norris.
“This is not going to work for our kids.”
Next, Dr. Traci Lawson McBride, retired teacher from West Hall High School with 30-plus years of experience who is now running for the Hall County Board of Education, said that Common Core only “goes back to big business.”
“We’re not really looking at educating children anymore,” said McBride.
She also said that Common Core’s emphasis on adaptive control of thought “sound[s] a bit above what we are supposed to be doing at a school.”
McBride spoke against Common Core making an effort to compile information about students through frequent testing.
Dr. Mary Kay Bacallo, candidate for the Georgia State School Superintendent position, objected to the federal government creating an education program for the states, saying that “Uncle Sam is keeping parents away from the decisions” and that Common Core is an “educational straightjacket.”
“We’re really fighting for freedom here,” said Bacallo. Bacallo said that the Common Core has never been implemented, so the results of the program can’t be known beforehand. She also described Common Core as an “educational treadmill” that will go too fast for the students that have difficulty with the material and that will go too slowly for the advanced students.
“Georgia can be number one in education,” said Bacallo.
“ Say no to their federal dollars.” Teri Sasseville, two-term President of the Georgia Autism Society and founding member of Georgia’s Regional Autism Support Project, pointed out that Common Core’s rigid set of standards does not account for the educational needs of students with disabilities and thereby violates the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“It is chilling how this has come about,” said Sasseville. “Right now we’ve got all our eggs in this Common Core basket.”
“One size does not fit all.” Finally, David Pennington discussed Common Core, blaming the “overreaching federal government” for attempting to regulate education.
“They want to take centralized control over our education system,” said Pennington. Pennington called for the citizens to “take control” of the situation and give it back to local communities. “I’ve on a mission to change Georgia,” continued Pennington.
“If we don’t have a good education system, Georgia doesn’t have much future.”