September 8, 2013

LePage now disavows Common Core

Elsewhere in the U.S., Common Core standards have conservatives seeing a school takeover.


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Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Maine Republican Convention at the Augusta Civic Center in 2012. “I don’t believe in Common Core,” LePage said in a recent interview. “I believe in raising the standards in education.”

The Associated Press


Not all opposition is from the right. Some liberals oppose what they see as excessive testing, said Mark Naison, a professor of African-American studies and history at Fordham University in New York.

Naison, who calls himself a leftist, co-founded a Facebook group in June he called the "Badass Teacher Association" opposed to the Common Core. It has 26,000 members, he said. More people will question the standards once they see the results, he said.

"The political alignments here are going to shift," Naison said.

In Maine, LePage's Department of Education announced the adoption of the Common Core in 2011 with a release saying the standards "do not tell teachers how to teach" while "allowing schools and teachers to plan their curriculum."

Opponents say the opposite.

"This is a historic transition of our education system," said Erick Bennett, a political operative who helped LePage win his first term and is spearheading an effort to collect the signatures needed for the referendum to nullify the standards. "The local school boards no longer have control over our schools."


Sitting in an Irish pub drinking beers last week in Bath, Gordon Draper, 61, and Dan McKenna, 53, said they oppose the standards. Draper said he has custody of his 9-year-old grandson and is pulling him out of public school, and McKenna plans to collect signatures for repeal.

"It reminds me of the Soviet Union," McKenna said in an interview. "When I was in school, this was called communism."

Still, some Republican lawmakers in Maine are standing by the program. Common Core engenders critical thinking that workers need, said state Sen. Andre E. Cushing III.

"Businesses are frustrated with the skill level of employees they are hiring," said Cushing, 54, of Hampden.


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