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Legislators prep for LAE forum on Common Core

Last Modified: Friday, December 06, 2013 11:06 PM

By Kara Carrier / American Press

Several local legislators met Friday with the Louisiana Association of Educators to discuss a public forum on Common Core State Standards that will be held next week. State Sens. Dan “Blade” Morrish and Ronnie Johns and state Rep. Brett Geymann met with LAE officials to prepare for the Our Community, Our Schools forum, which will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, in Lake Charles-Boston High Academy of Learning.

According to Terry Holden, unified service director at LAE, the forum’s purpose is to give parents and teachers a voice regarding the CCSS.

“The CCSS have become of great concern to area parents, teachers and lawmakers,” Holden said. “The Louisiana Association of Educators is presenting this forum in hopes of allowing both sides of the subject to be heard and as part of the National Education Association and LAE’s Day of Action.”

The forum is open to the public and will feature a panel of public officials, including Morrish, Johns and Geymann; Lottie Beebe, state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member; and R.L. Webb, Calcasieu Parish School Board member.

Holden said that during the two-hour forum, each panelist will speak for a few minutes about his or her thoughts on the issue, and 25 participants will be chosen by a lottery to address the panel and ask questions.

“We are expecting over 300 participants, so we have to limit the number of people we allow to speak because of time constraints,” Holden said.

Morrish said he was on the panel because he wants to hear from his constituents. “I’m going there to listen to the people. I’m not going to debate,” he said. “I’m not an educator. I want to hear and learn from people who I think know a whole lot more about this than I do.” Both Johns and Geymann agreed.

Holden said he isn’t expecting to leave the forum with a decision regarding the CCSS; he’s hoping to open a public conversation. “Despite the fact that this week the BESE board met and made some changes, a lot of the things they left are still open-ended,” Holden said. “We aren’t sure if legislation may be required to really close the circuit on these.”

According to Holden, the LAE and the panel want to hear what people are experiencing with the CCSS. “What are your concerns? What’s good about it? What’s bad about it? What has it done to impact your family or classroom?” Holden said.

Johns said the discussion Monday night should have some interesting dynamics. “We’re going to have people from both sides. I think that’s why these forums are very healthy,” he said.

Holden said he recognizes that many parents and teachers in Calcasieu Parish have a lot of frustration and anger about the CCSS. “It’s our expectation that by holding this public forum, our local elected school board members and legislators will have a better feel for this most important issue: Is the CCSS in fact good for our kids, good for our schools?” Holden said.

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