LITTLE ROCK — After surviving an effort this year to defund them, the Common Core State Standards may come under attack again in the legislative session that begins in January.

LITTLE ROCK — After surviving an effort this year to defund them, the Common Core State Standards may come under attack again in the legislative session that begins in January.


Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, told the Arkansas News Bureau he is considering filing a bill to repeal Common Core.


"This one size fits all, I just don’t buy that, because there’s just too much difference in different school districts in different states," Stubblefield said. "I just think there’s a better way to do it."


Stubblefield said some teachers in his district think Common Core is all right, but "some of them hate it."


"They think it’s a waste of time. They spend more time trying to learn how to give a test than they actually do teaching," he said.


The standards, initiated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are in use in 43 states and the District of Columbia, according to www.corestandards.org. Their stated purpose is to ensure that all students receive a quality education, regardless of where they live.


Arkansas adopted Common Core in grades K-2 in the 2011-12 school year, extended them to grades 3-8 in 2012-13 and added high school in 2013-14. The current school year is the first in which students are to be assessed via tests that are aligned with the Common Core standards and designed by a coalition of states, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.


Stubblefield and Rep. Randy Alexander, R-Springdale, filed matching bills during this year’s fiscal session that would have blocked funding for Common Core until 2017, but neither got out of committee.


Any legislative attempt in the 2015 session to do away with Common Core would be opposed by Arkansas Learns, a coalition of individuals and organizations, including the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Walton Family Foundation, that support the standards.


"We believe Arkansas students should compete with anybody, anywhere, at any time," said President and CEO Gary Newton.


Likely supporting repeal would be the group Arkansas Against Common Core. The group did not respond to requests Thursday and Friday for an interview, but its website states that Common Core has "effectively eliminated the ability of parents and local school boards to influence content standards to suit local needs."


That claim is "absolutely false," said Debbie Jones, assistant commissioner of learning services with the state Department of Education.


"They’re standards only," Jones said. "They do not tell a teacher how to teach. They do not tell teachers which books to teach."


A common complaint by opponents is that Common Core requires new, sometimes baffling methods of solving math problems.


Jones said Common Core does not dictate a math curriculum, but it does require that students be able to use problem-solving as well as memorization. She said one approach many schools have adopted is Cognitively Guided Instruction, which is not mandated by Common Core.


"A lot of their methods are constructed math, and parents don’t know how to teach that way at home, so that leads to some misunderstandings," Jones said. "Even on the teachers’ part it takes training. It just takes time, and we haven’t had the time for teachers to be properly trained. It’s just a time factor more than anything else."


Another common complaint is that PARCC will collect and share extensive personal information about students and their families. Jane Robbins, senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based American Principles Project, made that argument in a presentation to the state House and Senate education committees on Wednesday.


"PARCC has a cooperative agreement with the federal government that allows the federal government to have access to any student-level data that it collects from the testing," Robbins told the Arkansas News Bureau.


"We don’t know yet what data PARCC is going to require," she said. "They’ll probably start out with something very unobjectionable, but as time goes on they’ll say, ‘You should also collect this, and you should collect this.’"


Robbins said the ultimate goal is more power for the federal government.


"It fits in with the progressive theory of education and the economy," she said. "If you’re going to run a managed economy that is planned by experts at the top, very smart people in Washington who will tell the rest of us what to do, they have to have data."


Jones said the state Department of Education collects "minimal" information on students and never shares with the federal government or anyone else information that could identify individual students.


"Many of the statements that (Robbins) made that could be possible in her opinion, collecting private information on kids, is not what Arkansas does," Jones said. "For example, she mentioned collecting students’ baptismal certificates. We don’t do that, nor would we ever do that. That would serve no purpose whatsoever."


Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, who supports Common Core, said Robbins appeared to be advocating a conspiracy theory and said her points did not seem to be "connected to reality."


"If you can have your own (theory of an) agenda and it’s something that you’ve decided without any substantiation, I think that kind of thing is ripe for conspiracy and for politicization," she said.


Jones said the issue did not start out politicized, but in 2009 the Obama administration embrace Common Core and announced it would award extra points to states competing for Race to the Top education grants if they adopted Common Core or other college and career readiness standards.


"It made the connection to politics, and it was a fight after that," she said.