To date, 81 anti-Common Core bills have been filed for the upcoming legislative session, and state representatives Gene Reynolds and Henry Burns believe it is one of the most important issues they will face when they get to Baton Rouge next month.
"There are a whole lot of question marks surrounding Common Core," Reynolds said during a town hall meeting Monday. "There is a lot of sentiment to do away with it – a portion of it, if not all of it. But if we do that, then we have to have something to replace it with."
Reynolds, a retired educator who was recently named to the education committee, said he is working with a group of representatives to come up with an alternative curriculum.
"We need something from you guys to grab on to and run with it," Reynolds told the group that included Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls and school board member Ronnie Broughton.
Burns said he has received negative feedback, as well.
"The one thing I get from principals and teachers is that they don't like the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test," Burns said. "If one of the 'home team' could put it out there, that might help facilitate the discussion so we could find some middle ground."
Common Core uses education principles and specific skills students K through 12 should master in different grade levels for math and English only, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers. But there is no federal or state curriculum for teaching Common Core standards, leaving decisions about how to teach those principles and skills in the hands of local school systems.
"It's a very weird concept," Reynolds said. "You have all the political ramifications, then you have the standards themselves. The standards are not that bad. I've had superintendents tell me that if it was just the standards where we could develop a curriculum around that, in conjunction with the old comprehensive curriculum, that would be something they could go forward with for years and years."
Broughton said the writer of the math portion of Common Core claims the standards are set only for non-select college courses.
"They're for community colleges – not even universities," Broughton said.
Rawls said he has met few people who like the curriculum.
"For every one person for Common Core, I'll show you 10 who are against it," Rawls said. "You are staking your education lives on one standardized test – PARCC – that has never been field tested."
Burns said some school systems have eliminated PARCC from their comprehensive overhaul.
"But if you take something out, it makes more sense if you have something to offer to take its place," Burns said.
"It's going to be a difficult process, but I encourage everyone to get involved," Reynolds said.
The 2014 legislative session runs from March 10 until June 2.