‘Stand in the Gap’ comes to Pike County

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2014

With the advent of Common Core education standards in Alabama, a new program is challenging parents to step up and reclaim authority within the education system.

Stand in the Gap, a Christian-based program designed to educate parents about Common Core and its impact on classrooms, will host a meeting for Pike County parents on Tuesday.

Lisa Harris, one of the speakers for the program and the founder of Alabamians United for Excellence in Education, said Common Core attempts to prepare students for a workforce environment versus preparing them for a higher level of learning.

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Harris is also a retired teacher, and she said teachers know what was best for each student in their classroom.

“I feel like teachers and parents know what’s best for students,” Harris said. “Politicians don’t know what’s best. I was a teacher and I had all kind of quality instruction going on in my classroom and had my students really engaged and really enthusiastic about learning. I was able to get to know my individual students on a personal level. When No Child Left Behind came into affect, my classroom turned from a quality, student-focused classroom to a data-driven test focus classroom. All I did was test prep. It became a paperwork nightmare. All of the quality education was out the window.”

Common Core goes even further in removing the educators’ role in the classroom, she said.

“(The Common Core standards) are standards that have been adopted by 45 states in Washington, D.C., but some of the states that have adopted them have withdrawn,” Harris said. “What had been adopted are math standards and English language arts requirements. They are so specific they go beyond just learning the specifics. In math they have become so specific that they change what children will learn at certain ages and they use crazy, complicated concepts and a lot of the basic foundations have been left out. The standards are so specific that they have the teachers doing specific methods and materials and jump over into the actual curriculum so that very much of what the teacher is teaching is scripted.”

Jessica Helms is a parent who says she say first-hand how the implementation of these standards affected her child. “I saw his love of learning be put out,” Helms said. “He went from loving school to hating it. It had nothing to do with anything more than is frustration over these standards. After talking with friends and other parents, they were having the same thoughts and seeing the same issues as we were.”

While Helms’ child is a student in Pike County, she said issues such as these are nationwide.

“This isn’t just a Troy, or Alabama, issue,” Helms said. “This is a national issue where parents are seeing what this is doing to the futures of their children, and they do not like it. Just this year, Common Core was repealed in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Missouri thanks to the hard work of concerned parents, grandparents, educators and other anti-common core activists. They were able to see the dangers in these so-called standards. Louisiana is suing over them, and Florida is backing out of the aligned testing.”

The Pike County event for Stand In The Gap will be held Tuesday, Sept. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Park Memorial UMC, 750 Elba Highway. Helms said she hoped the group would be able to reach others who are concerned.

“I hope that parents come and listen to what our panel of experts have to say,” Helms said. “We are blessed with wonderful teachers in this county. Unfortunately, they have to teach these standards. We as parents need to learn what is going on in the classrooms, and start pointing the fingers where they need to be, and that is at the standards, not the teachers.”