AUGUSTA, Maine (NECN) -- With the start of the school year just around the corner, a debate over education standards is heating up in Maine.
Maine is one of 45 states that have adopted national guidelines, called Common Core State Standards.
Now opponents are launching a campaign to repeal them--saying decisions around education should be made at the local level. About 50 people, many of them home schoolers, provided the backdrop for the kick-off effort.
"I want to have an active role in my children's education and I don't believe this allows us to do that as parents, said Jane Busse, a home school parent from Scarborough.
The repeal effort is being led by the Maine Equal Rights Center and a group calling itself No Common Core Maine.
"We're gonna let the people decide if they want to have control over how their money is spent or leave it to the federal government," said Erick Bennett, Maine Equal Rights Center Director.
The Maine Legislature adopted Common Core Standards for English, Language Arts and Math back in 2010 in hopes of raising the bar for the state's high school graduates.
"The move to Common Core doesn't change anything on the ground in Maine in terms of how schools do their work other than the expectations are different," said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
He says the new standards emphasize more complex content and the development of real world skills including problem solving and communication.
But opponents says these standards are a dangerous erosion of local control.
"State leaders claim they had a big influence on Common Core but it's not true," said Jamie Gass, the Pioneer Institute's Center for School Reform Director.
Gass says the standards were written by a small group of people in Washington D.C.
The state's Education Commissioner says he's somewhat baffled by the repeal effort because neither educators or parents have approached him with concerns.
"If they have any concerns about what's in here, what are they? What is that specific concern," he said pointing to the book that spells out the standards.
Opponents who spoke at the press conference in favor of repeal were not able to highlight specific problems.
"I wouldn't be able to answer that. I have not looked at the standards specifically," said Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester.
Bowen says if Mainers take issue with the new standards, he doesn't think a statewide repeal is the answer.
"Look if you have a problem, run for School Board because they decide how this gets applied inside classrooms and inside the school building."
The petition drive will begin in September. 57,000 approved signatures are needed to get the question on the ballot for November 2014.