A bill that would repeal Arizona’s adoption of the Common Core curriculum and replace it with a state-developed plan has passed in the House and is now under consideration by the Senate.
Gina Ray, an Arizona resident and mother of four, says she is happy with the House’s approval of House Bill 2190, but she knows the fight against Common Core is still going to be an uphill battle.
“I am ready to be a target,” said Ray, referring to the treatment she expects from Common Core proponents within her state after she speaks out about the standards. “I am ready to pull every one of my kids out of school and homeschool them if need be. I’m ready to stand up for liberty. The rights of parents are being violated. I have no say.”
Ray is one of many parents in Arizona who are speaking out against Common Core K–12 math and English language arts standards. Ray says convincing Arizona legislators to repeal and replace Common Core is necessary has been extremely difficult. Ray spends six to eight hours working against Common Core each weekday.
Few Legislators Listening
Ray says one of the few legislators listening is state Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Pinal County), sponsor of HB 2190.
“HB2190 is designed to restore normal order and the constitutional rule of law in this area of state responsibility,” Finchem said. “Arizona has been bound to standards that are not what we were promised.”
Once a supporter of Common Core, Ray became more concerned the more she learned about the standards.
“What made me flip and turn was that I started seeing that everything they promised—that our schools would be in charge of curriculum; that our children would be smarter, better critical thinkers; that this was state led effort—it was all untrue,” Ray said. “I’ve seen the loss of my control as a parent and the loss of teachers’ control in the classroom. It’s just gone. It’s completely gone.”
Visible Common Core Effects
Ray says she is seeing changes in her children’s schools.
“Teachers are scared that if they teach the former math curriculum, students will not do well on the standardized tests, so they are scrapping the Saxon Math,” said Ray, of the former math curriculum previously taught to her younger children. “Our teachers are scared that their students aren’t going to do well. They are beyond scared their students are not going to do well on their tests.”
One of Rays children in high school has received lessons on subjects by teachers not trained in the discipline they are teaching. Ray says her son received a lesson on the Declaration of Independence in his English class by an instructor Ray believes was not qualified to teach the subject.
“[My son is] totally being taught incorrectly what these important historical documents mean,” Ray said. “[The teacher] told her students that the Declaration of Independence was a list of complaints, and she told the students to write their own Declaration of Independence from the school. I said, ‘No, no, no. The Declaration of Independence was not just a list of complaints. It was a list of God-given rights.’ We have misinformed teachers teaching the wrong subjects.”
Karen Palmer, an Arizona resident and mother of five, says parents are being ignored when they voice concerns about Common Core.
“My youngest child used to come home with Common Core homework in math,” Palmer said. “I was not a fan of the way math was being taught, and neither were many other parents. I voiced my opinion a few times. I then noticed that eventually the Common Core math homework was no longer being sent home. They sent home Saxon homework and began to keep all Common Core math work entirely at school. I felt it was to avoid any conflict from parents.
“I feel that our teachers’ hands are tied,” said Palmer. “They are not allowed to oppose [Common Core].”
Ray says she will not stop working until Common Core is repealed and replaced.
“I feel as a parent I am losing control of what my children are being taught,” Ray said. “I have to reteach them all over again.”
Heather Kays ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.
Image by woodleywonderworks.