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updated: 8/18/2013 2:50 PM

Some locals still fighting Common Core

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The new Common Core State Standards for reading and math are not without their critics.

Erin Raasch, a Villa Park mom, runs the website StopCommonCoreIL.org. She aggregates news stories about Common Core opposition across the nation, highlights Common Core events in the area, encourages people to call their legislators about the standards and explains the basic arguments for opposition.

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She also welcomes the stories of parents and teachers who had bad experiences with the standards and turned against them.

Her own shift came this past school year when she noticed her 9-year-old son seemed behind in spelling and penmanship. Raasch said her son's teacher told her the Common Core State Standards, adopted by the state in 2010, don't emphasize either skill.

Raasch, in turn, began to work with her son on her own, supplementing the instruction by his teachers. While Raasch isn't opposed to every piece of the Common Core, her activism is based on the feeling that her child isn't getting what he needs at school.

"I was really counting on my son getting a good public education," Raasch said. "I can't afford to send my son to a private school."

Developers of the Common Core -- education leaders from across the country -- presented the standards as a step forward in preparing the nation's children for college and career. The standards are specific with higher expectations in fewer categories to make sure students fully understand essential topics and skills.

Gary Percy, a three-time school board candidate in Elgin Area School District U-46 and former vice chairman of the U-46 Citizens Advisory Council, supports the concept of the Common Core. The idea that students need to be equally prepared nationwide to compete in a global world is something he advocated before the Core was adopted in Illinois.

But Percy bristles at the steps taken by the federal government since the standards were written. The learning goals were developed as an initiative of the states but the federal government has made access to education funding contingent on adoption of the standards.

"They can call it voluntary, but if it's tied to funding it's not really voluntary," Percy said.

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Winfield will host a forum later this month at McHenry County College to gather more information about his constituents' concerns and answer questions about the standards.

Hultgren, who represents the 14th congressional district, said he liked that the Common Core began as a state-led effort, but since then it has caused major concern.

"I don't want it to be a tool for the federal government to micromanage things in the local school districts," Hultgren said.

Raasch will sit on a panel at the forum, which begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 in Building B, room 171 of MCC's Luecht Conference Center, 8900 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.

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