Topeka The Kansas State Board of Education heard a barrage of criticism Tuesday over the reading and math standards it adopted two and a half years ago.
During the “citizens open forum” of the board's meeting, which usually only lasts about 30 minutes, the state board listened for an hour and a half as speaker after speaker from many parts of the state spoke out against the new Common Core standards for reading and math.
“When I heard about Common Core, I decided to check it out, and realized it was just the latest incursion of the federal government in its relentless pursuit of controlling our lives,” said Judy Smith, state director of Concerned Women for America, a group that, according to its website, works to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”
The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in all but a handful of states, were a project by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop curriculum standards that would prepare students for college and the workforce.
Kansas formally adopted the standards in 2010, dubbing them the "Kansas college and career-ready standards." School districts throughout the state, including the Lawrence school district, have spent much of the past two years getting teachers ready to implement them.
But Megan King of Lawrence told the board she didn't believe the public was ready to accept the standards.
“I would encourage you, like everyone has said, to step back and look at this a little bit differently,” King said. “People are just now becoming awake to this because it was really brought in through a backdoor effort.”
Few of the people who spoke said they objected to the specific content of the standards, but most did share the opinion that they represent a form of federal intrusion into state and local education matters.
“They've already taken over our healthcare, and now they're trying to take over our education system,” said one woman who addressed the board. “Enough is enough. People are tired. We're tired of not being listened to. We're tired of not being heard. But most of all we're tired of bureaucrats trying to tell us what to do at our local and state level.”
Most state board members, however, appeared unmoved by the testimony.
“I think these are Kansas college and career-ready standards,” said newly elected board member Jim McNiece, a Wichita Republican. “I think we've had a great deal of input. I'm pleased with the direction we've gone, the board prior to my arrival as well as this board.”
Board chairwoman Jana Shaver, an Independence Republican who was a member of the board in 2010, said she also was not convinced by the speakers.
"You know, they talked about myth and fact," she said. "Of course, we have our facts that we have researched. We put a lot of thought and time into deciding about that in 2010."