The fight over national education standards intensified Wednesday with the endorsement of a national evangelical organization.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents 40,000 member churches, said it supports Common Core standards as a matter of biblical justice.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, released a statement explaining the organization's position.
Are national standards driving curriculum and taking away local control? Alan Arroyo, dean of the School of Education at Regent University, answers this and more on Newswatch, Feb. 6.
"For years many states have set expectations too low for all our students, but particularly those from low-income schools, where many Hispanic children are educated. Rigorous standards must be available to all children, especially those in poverty," Rodriguez said.
Other conservative and Christian leaders also support the Core.
Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English at Liberty University, said the English standards are helping to refocus students on text analysis.
"A lot of students come to us who have very rarely if ever actually read a text in school," she explained. "Some students who study English have just learned to get by by having brilliant conversations."
Prior said the standards mark a return to an emphasis on close reading of the text, a move she believes that Christians should welcome.
"The Common Core standards are just simply asking students to read the text carefully, understand what a text is saying and how it is making an argument, which is really important," she said.
Prior did acknowledge that many conservatives are concerned that the standards represent federal overreach in education.
Opposition to Common Core is growing around the country. Many parent groups believe the copyrighted standards have shut them out of the education process.
They also say the Department of Education overstepped its bounds by tying Race to the Top funding to states' acceptance of the standards.
Supporters say the standards are not driving curriculum, but many critics believe they are.
"Parents can't get relief from their state officials," Emmett McGroarty, executive director of education at the American Principles Project, told CBN News. "They really can't get relief from their federal officials in many respects and they're left with no one to go to."
As the debate over Common Core rages in states across the country, the Washington Post reports that supporter and talk show host Mike Huckabee is urging its creators to re-brand.
Huckabee said the name has become "toxic" and should be changed.
That strategy may or may not appease parents who worry that they're losing their ability to influence what's taught in their local schools.
So far, 45 states have adopted the Common Core standards.