NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parents opposed to the new Common Core standards in schools staged a nationwide protest Monday.
As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported, opponents of the Common Core program believe education should be about teaching rather than testing.
Stephanie Locricchio of Staten Island was teaching her son, Louis, a lesson in civics Monday. She kept the first-grader out of class at P.S. 42 for a day.
She was among a group of parents across 16 states keeping their kids home from school as a way to boycott Common Core.
“I feel that school should inspire children to find their true passion,” Locricchio said.
The material in the Common Core program requires students to think more critically about concepts, rather than simply understand how to get a right answer.
The ultimate goal is to teach kids to reason rather than just memorize, and some have said it was working – or at least believe it will in time.
“I think that if kids are taught more difficult things they will rise to the challenge,” said Kimberly Sansevero.
But critics said the curriculum is too rigid, and that it relies too heavily on testing and not enough on teaching individual students.
“I don’t like it,” said McKayla Carroll, a fourth grader, “because it seems like they’re just teaching us to take the test.“
“Not everything is a measurable standard,” added Locricchio. “The Common Core is all about measuring standards, numbers, testing and just having a one-size-fits-all approach to education.”
Despite criticism, education leaders from at the federal, state and even city level said common core is here to stay.
‘We have a responsibility to deepen education and make it more rigorous and that’s what common core is about,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
State Education Commissioner John King has gotten an earful from parents. Last week, hundreds of parents packed a number of meetings on Long Island to express their concerns.
Monday’s grassroots movement is being fueled by a Facebook page started by a New York mom. The page has gotten more than 16,000 shares, according to protest organizers.
And while the opponents are not convinced it will make common core disappear, they hope, maybe, their voices will be heard.
“Teachers and administration should be developing these children to go and find their passion and that should be the career that they follow, not hammering down this curriculum and saying this is what you need to know,” Locricchio said.
State and city education leaders have pointed out that common core took seven years to develop. They do not feel it was rushed, and are asking parents to be patient.
Arne Duncan’s Comments Raise Eyebrows
Meanwhile, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is raising eyebrows for comments he made Friday to a group of state schools superintendents, according to a published report.
“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback [against Common Core] is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said, according to the Washington Post. “You’ve bet your house and where you live on and everything on ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
Duncan has since said he “didn’t say it perfectly,” Politico reported.
“Do we want more for our kids, or do we want less? Do we want higher standards or not?” Duncan said, according to the site.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, Locricchio did not take kindly to the comments.
“It is infuriating to be singled out as this ‘white suburban mom’ who all of a sudden is up in arms,” she said.
Lisa Mancuso said Duncan’s comment was out of touch.
“He has no idea what we face here in New York, especially,” said Mancuso, of Carle Place, Long Island. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Mancuso attended a Common Core meeting in Mineola last week, and called Duncan’s comments divisive.
“It shouldn’t be a race issue, it affects every child; since Common Core is a national standard that affects every school in this country,” Mancuso said.
“It’s disappointing – as that demographic – to hear that,” said Erin Debrich of Garden City, “but I would tend to think everyone’s up in arms about it.”
Even Common Core supporter Randi Weingarten joined the criticism of Duncan, saying “really doesn’t get it,”
And Locricchio said Duncan’s comments will only inspire Common Core critics to work harder.
“This has to do with industrializing our education system; the way they have done with everything else in this country,” Locricchio said. “They are producing little robots instead of unique individual students that are passionate about learning.”
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com: