Common Core opposition organizes protest in Columbia, encourages parents to keep children home from school
Hundreds of South Carolina parents are expected to rally and possibly pull their children from schools on Monday to show their opposition to the Common Core State Standards.
The Columbia event is part of National Don’t Send Your Child to School Day, which was organized to raise awareness about Common Core. Those standards are the new requirements for what K-12 students must learn in English language arts and math.
“It is our hope that it sends a loud message to the education establishment and the decision makers in our state that we’re going to protect our children from these flawed standards,” said Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, a group that is opposed to the standards.
Schools statewide already are using the standards in classroom lessons this year, and the state is slated to fully implement and test those standards during the 2014-15 school year. The state Education Oversight Committee and the state Board of Education adopted the standards three years ago, but resistance to their decision has been building in recent months as next school year approaches.
This isn’t the first time Few’s group has lead this kind of effort; they helped organize “Exposing Common Core, One Rotten Apple,” another Columbia rally that took place on a Saturday in September.
Few said they thought carefully about whether to encourage parents to remove their children from school, and she said doing so for one day doesn’t make them truant. Parents only should participate if their children aren’t at risk for being truant, which is defined as three consecutive unlawful absences or a total of five, she said.
“Missing one day of school is not nearly as controversial or damaging than forcing developmentally inappropriate standards on children that will cause psychological damage,” Few said. “Sometimes it takes desperate action to get attention on an important issue.”
Charleston County School District hasn’t taken a position on the political issue, although it has invested money and spent time preparing educators to understand and teach the standards. Some school board members have advocated not using the standards because it removes local control, which has been a common concern among some conservatives.
Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said local and national leaders are trying to improve student achievement by endorsing Common Core.
“Allowing students to miss a full day of instruction may very well accomplish the opposite,” she said.
“Before jumping to the conclusion that it’s wrong to embrace content standards that will make our South Carolina graduates more globally competitive, I would urge all parents to use a portion of their day on Monday to gain first-hand facts about Common Core State Standards.”
Roger O’Sullivan, a Mount Pleasant resident and retiree, has volunteered as a regional leader with Parents Involved in Education. He said he’s heard from at least a dozen Charleston area residents who plan to attend the rally but he’s not sure how many will pull their children from school.
He said he has nine grandchildren, and he’s working on this issue for them. He said children don’t need to be fed this kind of propaganda, and state lawmakers need to step up and prevent this from happening.
“We need a state to take the lead and drop out (of Common Core),” he said. “We don’t have a state that’s doing that yet.”
Six senators, including state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, and state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, have proposed legislation that would prevent Common Core from being implemented in South Carolina.
Monday’s protest begins at 10 a.m. and will include a march around the city block surrounding the South Carolina Department of Education. Five local and national speakers then will talk about the Common Core on the steps of the state department building.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 843-937-5546.