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Parents Protest Common Core By Keeping Children Home From School

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Cross-posted from the StateEd Watch blog

Parents critical of the Common Core State Standards staged a national protest this week by keeping their children home from school.

While it's unclear how many of these anti-common-core activists followed through on their pledge, just over 4,000 people announced on Facebook that they were joining the "Say No to Common Core" protest on Nov. 18, according to a blog post by Education Week's Andrew Ujifusa.

Media accounts about the planned protest from across the country were sketchy.

There was a 100-person common-core protest in Columbia, South Carolina's state capital, regarding the standards, although in the video from The State newspaper's report, the main (in fact only) audio is the chant "Stop common core." So, Ujifusa wrote that the protest lacked context. 

In New York state, the local ABC affiliate reported that "dozens" of students joined their parents in a common-core protest at the state education department in Albany. The news report focused on students specifically who spoke out against the standards for being too restrictive.

Meanwhile, the State Island Advance minced no words when it reported that the keep-your-children-home protest "fizzled" in the New York City borough.

Janet Ward Wilson, who maintained the Facebook page and other social media that pushed the protest, told Education Week that her anti-common-core website has received tens of thousands of visits since she began pushing back on the standards. She said people have been "duped by the federal government" into the standards, and that the U.S. Constitution does not grant Washington power over education to the extent that they could offer incentives for states to act in certain ways: "Common core violates our 10th amendment rights."

Quantifying the depths of displeasure parents have with common core may be impossible. But those who oppose the standards seem to be deeply troubled by their inability to air their concerns.

I attended a school district-sponsored forum in my Southern California community this week. The forum, which was held at a local middle school, was carefully orchestrated as an information session—not a debate. The public was invited to ask questions, but only in writing.

That did not stop one visibly angry parent from interrupting the question-and-answer session to say: "This is offensive! [Our district] does not need [the common core.] We are way above this."

He continued: "It's reprehensible what you are doing."

His comments were met with applause from some in the large group of people who attended the forum. I also overheard some attendees grumble that district administrators were lying about the common core.

Still, there seemed to be more head nodding in agreement and applause for comments that supported efforts to improve teaching strategies and to graduate students with more critical thinking skills.

"We're not going to let your kids down," said one middle school teacher on the panel. "We're not going to let them fall through the cracks."

The common core campaign is underway in my community. Whether it will produce more critics than converts, only time will tell.

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