The national debate about the Common Core educational system became local, during a discussion in front of a crowded audience, sponsored by the Faulkner County Tea Party.
The Common Core discussion has been divided into two camps, and for many it has brought passionate emotions. The two camps are simple, for and against, both supported with information and a passionate core of supporters.
The forum was filled with regular members and a sea of visitors. Among them were local politicians including David Meeks, Stephen Meeks, and Joe Farrer. Demonstrators opposing Common Core stood in the back with signs reading, "Common Core is mind control," and "I can’t help my children with their homework. Stop Common Core now."
As the debate began, a light PSA was addressed, which told attendees to hold back and allow each presenter to speak without backlash or heated comments.
Starting the debate was the speaker opposed to Common Core, Karen Lamoreaux.
Lamoreaux is the author of "No Choice, No Voice: Something’s Rotten to the Core." As a voice against Common Core, she travels with individuals nationally. She is currently working to appeal the Arkansas Legislature on their decision to incorporate Common Core standards.
Lamoreaux spoke to the parents and Arkansans in the room stating that she was a mother of three, a wife, and a small business owner. She explained that funding of Common Core was from the federal government and stated that some educators have said that accelerating current standards by two years would actually slow learning and cause children to need more remedial courses. She concluded that this would actually place students two years behind.
Following Lamoreaux was her opponent Gary Newton.
Newton is the first president and CEO of Arkansas Learns. The nonprofit is nonpartisan and is comprised of private sector employers, parents, as well as citizens that are dedicated to education excellence. "I used to be a chamber man," explained Newton, spotlighting his prior experience as executive vice president of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Newton told the forum that above all else, he prides himself most as being a father.
Newton’s explanation of Common Core began with an overview of the initiative’s goals. He outlined that Common Core was developed due to a need in the United States to be competitive in education, comparable to foreign systems. He concluded by addressing the need again and expressing that the development of these standards allows students to be educationally stronger.
Following the debate, the forum opened the floor for discussion. Many of the members and guests were pleased with the debate and that the information offered by both speakers was tremendously helpful.
"It was great having a public forum in order for people to hear both sides of the CC issue. Both Karen and Gary did a good job presenting their positions. I hope more people will do the research on CC and come to understand what is at stake in our schools," said Betty Yerger, an audience member at the Thursday evening debate.