HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Some parents are deciding to pull their children out of area public schools as debate over the controversial Common Core program continues to heat up.
The small but growing number of north Alabama families who are making the decision to homeschool their children comes as state lawmakers prepare to debate a bill that would allow Alabama school systems to opt-out of Common Core (http://whnt.com/2014/03/05/bill-in-works-that-would-allow-common-core-opt-out-for-schools/). Several parents have expressed their intention to withdraw their children from school on WHNT News 19's social media sites in recent weeks, with one Muscle Shoals woman planning to make the move official on Friday.
"It [Common Core] has caused chaos in our house, and it's not worth it," said Lori Peden, who will formally withdraw two of her children from McBride Elementary in Muscle Shoals on Friday. "It's a huge change at once."
Peden is already homeschooling her 9-year-old son Jake, who made the transition last fall. She said she had no plans of ever homeschooling her children, with the surprise journey only beginning after she noticed her son struggling with his Common Core math assignments. Lori said Jake and his classmates were required to find and learn up to half a dozen different pathways to the same final answer, creating confusion and constant stress.
"In math, they take a very long road to go a short distance," said Peden. "You're fighting over which method to use and how to figure out how he needs to do it. It's a lot of time wasted, a lot of effort wasted."
Peden believes Common Core creates an inflexible one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't fit every child's learning pattern, a concern she says was shared by some of the teachers at school who confided in her.
"The teachers are not comfortable teaching it," said Peden. "They're frustrated. Parents are upset, kids are not making good grades. That's what I've seen."
Common Core concerns raised by teachers were echoed by one local educator, who decided to quit rather than teach under the new standards.
"I don't think the student was being considered when Common Core was thought of or being implemented," said Stacie Wooten, an eight-year teaching veteran who abruptly resigned before the current school year began. "As a teacher it took my creativity out of the classroom, and I felt like I was being forced to teach their particular way."
Wooten taught chemistry and biology in both the Huntsville and Decatur City School systems before accepting her current role as a teacher in a local homeschooling association. She told us the dilemma of what to do grew while undergoing Common Core training last year, and said she became painfully aware that the program ignores fundamental differences in learning styles and behaviors.
"I felt that the needs of the student, whether it's their socio-economic situation, whether or not they're dealing with a learning disability, or just a child that's very artistic and not a math genius, they're not being considered."
Wooten said several of her colleagues shared her concerns, but believes most will stay silent in the face of strong Common Core support from area school boards and superintendents.
"We [teachers] put on a face of agreement when we want to appease certain people," said Wooten. "I don't know how long those superintendents or representatives have been out of the classroom, but when you're in the classroom it's a completely different ballgame than being in an office."