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Special Report: Debate over Common Core

A look at opinions on both sides about this new method of teaching.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The debate over Common Core heats up as Indiana becomes the first state to scrap the school standards.

An Arkansas group -- against Common Core -- is working to make the same thing happen here...but there's  plenty of resistance to that idea.

Common Core standards are used to design curriculum in classrooms across the  country.

Parent Laterri Porter says while the lessons are challenging...it's setting her kids up for success after high school.

"We've had to reach out to tutors for the math homework," she says. "I feel like it is preparing them for college and their careers." 

Jackie Smith, the principal at Baker Elementary School says Common Core develops critical thinking and helps students to become better problem solvers.

"Here, the parents have been very positive," says Smith. "We know more about how children learn so we can teach them in ways that are better."

But ask parent Karen Lamoreaux...and she'll tell you something completely different.

"This is not preparing our children to compete in the global economy," she says. "It's not working for Arkansas."

Lamoreaux now home-schools her children. She says her son started to lose confidence after the Pulaski County Special School District implemented Common Core standards.

"Waking up in the morning saying 'I don't want to go to school, please don't make me go to school. I hate math. I'm stupid.' This is unacceptable," says Lamoreaux.

Parent Mandie Smith says she's dealing with the same issue and also plans to home-school her daughter.

"I don't want it to damage her any further. I don't want her to be damaged by Common Core," Smith says.

Math lessons seem to be the main concern for parents.

Take this one for example. Instead of dividing 90 by 18 to come up with the answer of five, Lamoreaux says students must draw 18 circles and mark each circle until they reach 90, to get this question correct.

"This is why our children are coming home with homework full of pictures and circles and hashmarks," she says.

We took this problem to Arkansas' Commisisioner of Education, Dr. Tom Kimbrell.

"That's not the Common Core, way that's some other instructional strategy. It's not Common Core math, it's a strategy," he says.

Dr. Kimbrell explains Common Core is simply a set of standards. He says schools and teachers can set up their lesson plans differently as long as those standards are met.

"There's no one solution, there's multiple solutions," he says.

Dr. Kimbrell also told us a problem shouldn't be marked incorrect if the student explained their work  and got the answer right.

But some of the parents we talked to say that's not the way they see it.

"My children have come home with math problems that were considered incorrect even if they got the right  answer because they didn't use the right methodology to get to that answer," Lamoreaux says.

Lamoreaux is committed to fighting against Common Core, saying it's corrupting public schools.

But supporters insist it's been very successful. They believe the standards are the future of education and will help americans become more competitive in this global economy.
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