July 11, 2014

Group asks parents to keep kids out of school for Monday protest

A group that opposes new Common Core education standards which begin next year is asking parents to keep their children out of school Monday in protest of those standards. South Carolina Parents Involved In Education (SCPIE) is helping organize the rally in Columbia.

Protestors will meet at the South Carolina Department of Education offices before marching to the Statehouse. Several speakers will be in attendance, most notably State Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), a libertarian-leaning Republican who is running for U.S. Senate next year.

SCPIE was created by conservative activist Sheri Few and others over what they said were “top-down, one-sized-fits-all” education standards. She and some other conservatives say the system does not take into account the needs of individual students, especially in grades K-3. “We’re saying  withhold your child for one day to sound this loud message,” Few told South Carolina Radio Network. “Because this is bad, I mean, seriously harming children. So contrast that to the harm that could potentially be caused by keeping your child home from school for one day.”

Common Core was drafted by the National Governors Association and several education groups in an effort to set what students should know at each grade level. Supporters say it will give state education leaders a better way to compare their students with those in other states. Federal officials encouraged states to adopt the standards in order to be eligible for additional funds, or to opt out of the “No Child Left Behind” standards. The South Carolina Board of Education and Education Oversight Committee voted a few years ago to begin transitioning to Common Core.

While state Education Superintendent Mick Zais publicly opposes Common Core, he will not take part in the rally. Zais’ spokesman Dino Teppara said Zais gave the protestors a letter to read aloud at the rally, supporting their position. However, Teppara did not say if the superintendent was in favor of having students miss school. Few said the main reason they want parents to kave kids skip school is to bring attention to an issue that has not gotten a lot of play in South Carolina.

Ashley Byrd contributed to this report.