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Common Core books up for vote

Last Modified: Friday, August 01, 2014 10:57 AM

By Kara Carrier / American Press

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the Calcasieu Parish School Board will decide whether to buy new math and English language arts textbooks that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Last week, the curriculum committee voted unanimously to recommend that the board buy the books, Eureka Math and Core Knowledge. If approved, the district’s overall textbook expenses for the 2014-15 school year would swell to almost $2.8 million.

With the controversy and legal battles over CCSS, some have questioned whether the board should buy the books. Elizabeth Long, a special-education teacher at Barbe High who opposes Common Core, said the district should wait before spending millions of taxpayer dollars on books that may not be needed.

“If we lose the battle in state court, and we keep Common Core, then spend the money,” she said. “But what happens if we spend $2.8 million and we are no longer doing Common Core? Then taxpayers have to come in and shell out more money for more books for whatever standards we go with.”

Long said the district should have teachers pull lessons from online resources, as they did last year, until the court rules on CCSS. She said that is the fairest and most responsible option.

School system officials said they understand the concern about Common Core’s uncertainty, but that they must follow Board of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines or risk losing millions of dollars in funding.

“Our number one goal is to educate our students, and without that money we can’t operate,” said Kirby Smith, district spokeswoman. “We have to stay focused and provide our teachers the support they need to be successful to be able to reach our end goal, which is to educate our students.”

Tommy Campbell, district chief academic officer, said Long’s suggestion for teachers to use online resources for another year isn’t fair to students or teachers. He said that method distorts the district’s curriculum alignment and that the selected textbooks can be used regardless of what happens with Common Core.

“We simply made a decision based on what we know right now and what is law right now,” he said. “We needed to support teachers and students with something consistent.”

Campbell said it’s been 10 years since the system adopted a math textbook and almost seven years for English. Committees comprising teachers, principals and curriculum coordinators researched textbook options and picked the best, he said.

“No matter what happens at the state level, we are going to be teaching to standards,” Campbell said. “More than likely, the standards will not be a whole lot different than what we have today. We feel that we have textbooks that do the things that we have wanted to do for years — more rigor, applied instruction, student involvement and problem solving.”

Posted By: Arlene 385A2 On: 8/2/2014

Title: Common Core

I totally agree with Gov.Jindal.

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