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BESE members check out Common Core

NEW ORLEANS - New federal education guidelines have teachers, parents and some lawmakers picking sides over the "Common Core" controversy.

The program is designed to bring Louisiana education standards in line with the rest of the country so that students can get an equivalent education, but some say the federal government have gone too far.

"It's all about what you prioritize," said Dibert Community School Principal Diana Archuleta.

The priority now is a set of new standards - Common Core - designed to keep Louisiana students on par with the rest of the country.

" I love Common Core," said Judith  Maranti, with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. "I completely believe that raising the bar for our students is what our kids deserve."

The new standards are designed to establish what's described as a staircase of increasing complexity and provide extra instruction for students who can't keep up.

"Our kids should compete everywhere," said BESE member Kira Orange Jones. "This will give our educators more resources to help them get there."

The standards are being fully implemented at all public and some parochial schools across the state, and at Dibert Elementary, where BESE board members went to see for themselves.

"I think what's exciting is teachers feel that they are selecting the appropriate materials to meet the standards," Maranti said.

Though the standards are federally mandated, supporters say teachers have latitude to pick course materials.

One seventh-grade class uses stacked cubes, rather than numbers, to teach students math concepts, and their tests have fewer multiple choice questions.

"They're now expected to articulate their thought process," Archuleta said.

The visit was an important one to BESE board members as they begin to hear some criticism of the Common Core standards.

"My concerns are it's coming from the federal level, and parents didn't have a voice in this," said St. Tammany parent Jade Miller.

But many are supporters.

"I think it's a good program because it's an opportunity for children to not fall behind," said New Orleans resident Cynthia Gilbert.

One lawmaker, is calling on the governor to stop the implementation of Common Core.

"Right now he's dancing and hasn't really done anything to slow implementation," said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.

The governor has asked the state education department to look into the concerns, but Common Core fans worry.

"I think the delay would be a mistake," said BESE member Maranti.

In the meantime, full implementation continues. Louisiana is one of 45 states that has adopted the standards, which will require eighth-graders to do algebra and literary analysis, among other things.

 

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