Common Core standards draw fire at Beaufort gatherings

rlurye@islandpacket.com

February 15, 2014 

The president of a grassroots, conservative group denounced a recent report on Common Core educational standards at a news conference and Beaufort Tea Party meeting on Saturday.

The Palmetto Policy Forum released a series of recommendations Feb. 5 for the improvement of Common Core, which outlines learning benchmarks for each grade level.

The majority of that report "is superficial nonsense," said Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education. Few, a Republican from Lugoff, also is running for the state superintendent of education post.

"Defending the latest money-driven, federal education fad is questionable for a think-tank that claims to be conservative," Few said at noon at the Beaufort County administration building on Ribaut Road.

The Palmetto Policy Forum report, "How Common Core Went Wrong," recommends the state restructure its education governance, revise or supplement Common Core up to the allowed 15 percent and begin a conversation with South Carolina parents about what they want to see in education standards, among other recommendations.

Some of the recommendations were reasonable, Few said, but the forum took a "hostile position" by publishing just a few weeks before the S.C. Senate plans to hold a hearing on a bill that would repeal Common Core.

That hearing, on S.C. bill 300, is scheduled for Feb. 19. Including South Carolina, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core.

Shortly after the news conference, Few joined a group of nine Beaufort Tea Party members at their meeting at Golden Corral in Beaufort to continue speaking on Common Core.

Tea Party webmaster and co-founder Ann Ubelis said she had scheduled the meeting months before the policy report was announced.

"(Common Core) was done with noble ideas but the unintended consequence is more harm to our children and their ability to function in society," Ubelis said.

Proponents of the standards say they will better prepare students for college, careers and competition in a global environment.

Ubelis disagrees.

She said Common Core places undue burdens on school staff and teachers, stifles their creativity and overcomplicates lessons.

"Is this encouraging efficiency? Is this teaching children to be productive?" Ubelis said. "I call it the dumbing down of America."

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

Related content:

Don't fear Common Core, Nielsen tells local Republicans, July 1, 2013

Beaufort County officials react to Common Core backlash, June 12, 2013

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