Kansas Common Core Opponents Look to 2014
Although frustrated by this month’s three-vote defeat of a bill to reconsider Common Core national education standards or related tests, former Kansas Board of Education member Walt Chappell is resolute: “House Bill 2289 [to repeal Common Core] is still alive.”
The Common Core opponent expects a repeal bill to be re-introduced in 2014, but in the interim, Chappell, president of Educational Management Consultants, believes a “groundswell of activity from teachers and parents” is necessary to make that bill law. He plans to spread the word about Common Core, and assist parents and teachers in outreach to their communities.
“We need to give them a voice,” Chappel said.
Twelve Kansas legislators abstained from voting on the bill, which went down 55-58. It would have prohibited the state board of education from adopting national science standards, and had a committee study Common Core’s academic quality and costs to implement.
Common Core is a list of what children must learn in K-12 math and English, and will be paired with national tests in 2014-2014. Forty-five states traded their state standards for Common Core in 2010. As it has rolled out in schools, parents nationwide have protested, arguing the program reduces local input, is untested and of poor quality, and its costs are unknown.
‘Wild West’ Education
Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker told the legislature that K-12 standards are necessary to prevent Kansas from becoming the "Wild West" of education. DeBacker told the Lawrence Journal-World she thinks people standing against Common Core are driven more by new, controversial, and related science standards rather than the initial math and English mandates. The Kansas Board of Education adopted national science standards in June. They promote alarmist global warming and lack important academic content, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
DeBacker also said repealing Common Core would hurt school districts that have converted their curriculum, and that the legislature would invite a legal challenge by interfering with the board of education’s constitutional authority over public schools.
Newly elected Rep. John Bradford (R), a House Education Committee member, introduced HB2289.
“Of those that voted against the bill, most didn’t pay attention to the volume of calls from parents,” he said. He chalks up the narrow defeat of HB2289 to lawmakers who “didn’t want to cross the education folks.”
Time to Study
When elected in January 2012, Bradford discovered he and many other legislators knew little about the Common Core. He became, “disheartened to find that no one on the [legislative] Education Committee goes to State School Board meetings,” he said. Bradford said he will spend the next several months attending state school board meetings and Common Core town hall events.
“We need to get homeschool and parochial schools involved in this effort,” Bradford said. “When the SAT and ACT [college entrance exams] have been changed to comply with Common Core, it will put these groups at a severe disadvantage nationwide.”
This level of interest from a state legislator excites Kristin George, a Kansas mother of two children. Though she lives 75 miles from the state Capitol, a March column by conservative commentator Michelle Malkin prompted her to visit.
“I couldn’t let go of the fact that I wouldn’t have control over my kids’ education. I thought about how individual they are – I don’t see my kids fitting into a standard that doesn’t appreciate them for who they are,” George said.
She feels that she and other parents who have begun speaking out against Common Core implementation in Kansas are being marginalized by Common Core proponents.
“Parents know what’s best for their children,” she said. She and friend Vanessa Everhart organized a Common Core potluck picnic June 15 to tell friends about common Core. As they wait for the legislature to once again confront the issue, these two moms refuse to sit idle. They plan to continue using social media to inform parents, and organize parent attendance at state school board meetings to keep members apprised of their concerns, George said.
Image by Jimmy Emerson.