EASLEY — South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) held a protest on Monday outside the offices of Alice Manufacturing in Easley, the private office of S.C. Sen. Larry Martin, a proponent of Common Core.
“This is about the federal overreach in education and the 10th Amendment,” Johnelle Raines of SCPIE said of the demonstration. “The 10th Amendment clearly states education is in the control of the states and with Common Core that means a total loss of local control.”
Common Core is an effort to standardize the education of k-12 students in the United States to make them career and/or college ready. SCPIE sees the standards and curricula set as a result of Common Core as not being in the best interests of students.
“This is playing with our children’s futures,” Raines explained. “And their mental well-being is also affected. Common Core is requiring children ages 5, 6, and 7, for example, to deal with abstract concepts when their mental development at that age isn’t prepared for it.”
In all SCPIE held four demonstrations outside the work locations of four South Carolina Senators supporting Common Core. The three other locations were Conway, Columbia and Rock Hill.
Sen. Martin was supportive of SCPIE’s right to demonstrate and assemble. It was their choice of location he found unsettling.
“It’s a well-known fact I work at Alice Manufacturing and if this group wanted to protest me in an official capacity, I also have a delegate’s office located in Easley,” Martin said. “Why picket my job instead of my public office? It’s my understanding they also put my home number out on radio.”
Martin was quick to point out it wasn’t the Legislature that implemented Common Core in South Carolina, and the legislation he is supporting — S-888 — would go a long way to address concerns.
“The Legislature didn’t vote to adopt or implement Common Core standards, that was done through the executive branch,” the senator said. “What we’re trying to do with this bill is address some of the concerns this organization was picketing over. With time to see what the results of Common Core are, which is addressed in the bill, we can then make a change if needed. Right now, asking to repeal it simply isn’t possible.”
The School District of Pickens County, on the other hand, is a proponent of Common Core.
“As a district we are for Common Core, and even if we weren’t, the state’s standards are as difficult,” the Public Information Officer of SDPC said. “Most of the faculty and staff have read and understand what Common Core is and they support it.”
The curriculum and standards of Common Core and what SCPIE represents as its effects on students are a major concern for the group, but the reason for adopting and keeping Common Core is financial in their opinion.
“It’s all about the money and not losing Title I funds,” Raines explained. “South Carolina opted into Common Core and if we opt out, we’re going to lose the funds Title I provides for not participating. If you have a parent who is unhappy and they go to the school board or district, what they’ll be told is there’s no recourse where standards are concerned. The state board has already signed the contract for the funds.”
Martin, in the meantime, continues to see S-888 as a possible solution moving forward while SCPIE disagrees, pushing for S-300, which would essentially do away with Common Core in South Carolina.
As for Common Core and Title I funding being tied to one another, Martin doesn’t agree.
“As far as I know the federal government is banned by federal law to direct the curriculum in public schools,” he explained. “Common Core wasn’t created by the Obama administration, despite popular belief. It was engineered by the National Governor’s Association and the National Association of State Superintendents.”