The federal government wants to control Georgia’s classrooms, collect private data and dumb down students through a set of nationally agreed-upon standards called Common Core, tea party activists and a former congressman told Cobb’s school board Thursday evening.
The Common Core opponents said it’s only prudent of the school board to reject all textbooks associated with the standards, as the majority of the board did in April when they voted not to buy new math books.
“This is driven by the lure of money from the federal government, who is really good at luring entities in to perpetrate the other C in Common Core, and that is control,” said Bob Barr, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
It was reminiscent of the April board meeting, when some of the same activists showed up and surprised Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and his staff, who’d anticipated easy approval of the $7.5 million purchase of textbooks.
Cobb’s administrators have said Common Core standards are “rigorous” and similar to prior Georgia standards, and that student data won’t be compromised.
Thursday’s meeting featured rotten apples, signs proclaiming “Take back our schools,” quotes from the Constitution — and an apple pie, which a man held up to exhibit one of the key concepts he said is missing from Common Core. Audience members, decked in patriotic paraphernalia, booed and hissed at the handful of math teachers who attempted to protest the board’s decisions.
The debate has raged for months. The textbooks are aligned with Common Core standards that specify math and literature concepts students should learn by certain grades.
Georgia and 44 other states have adopted the standards, which are not mandated by the U.S. Department of Education, but which are supported by the Obama administration.
In a board meeting earlier this month, several members stood firm on their stance against buying the books.
Other board members and a vocal group of teachers say that opposition to Common Core has “politicized” math and that without the books the district’s already lagging math test scores will continue to suffer.
“These kids need resources. Our future really does depend on it,” said Carol Lawrence, who sat on the committee that chose the books.
At the June 12 board meeting, Hinojosa proposed several alternatives to making the $7 million purchase, including buying books that have been altered to remove references to Common Core; buying online resources for teachers and textbooks that don’t refer to Common Core; or buying the originally proposed Common Core textbooks only for middle and high school students.
The board could vote on those proposals as soon as their July meeting.
“Passions run high when it comes to education of our children,” board chair Randy Scamihorn said at the end of the public comments section. “I believe we come from point of view that we want the best for our children because it’s the upmost importance. We will find a solution for this.”