Archive for Tuesday, May 14, 2013

State Board hears opposition to Common Core Standards

May 14, 2013


— 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."


toe 5 years, 1 month ago

I love the common core. You will be able to write computer programs to replace teachers and save a lot of money. Efficient education will finally be realized with a massive increase in productivity.

NoStandardizedMinds 5 years, 1 month ago

It is sad that you think a good teacher can be replaced by a robot/computer. Teaching a child is not like building a cell phone or painting a car. You can't fit human beings into little boxes and dictate everything from the top..The Soviet Union tried it and failed.

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

Not to mention who is going to make sure the student sits in front of the computer? Not many parents today want that responsibility. They can't even be bothered to go to conferences.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 1 month ago

I highly doubt the board will be swayed. College education programs around the state are already preparing their students to teach Common Core. Too much money has been put into this to change now.

rgh 5 years, 1 month ago

People wake up. These standards are not federally regulated and were not federally mandated and handed down! They were started years ago (well before 2010) by the governors of various states and the education commissioners of various states.

States were not required to follow these standards. They were presented and states had their own opportunity to be a part of a newer more rigorous system of testing and accountability or go their own way.

People can say they don't care for the standards if they want but cannot argue these are coming from the federal government. It's not factual in any sense and total garbage to even say. You do have options as in private schools (some of which will be using these same college ready standards) or home schooling which saves you enrollment fees, textbook rental, and lunch fees. I'm just sick of the conservative right wing trying to persuade others that the standards have something to do with the federal government.

elliottaw 5 years, 1 month ago

facts have no place in Kansas, you don't have to look any farther than Brownback to see that

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Setting aside her factual errors about Common Core, I don't get her argument. So how dare the government involve itself in public education? Wha?

scarletbhound 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, RGH, for setting the record straight on the background of the Common Core. Your information is absolutely correct. The Common Core has nothing to do with the federal government. It was entirely a project of state governors and education officials nationwide, who undertook the effort precisely because of concern about the federal government's involvement in education -- specifically the well-intentioned but poorly implemented No Child Left Behind act. Moreover, the Common Core has been endorsed by virtually all the more conservative education policy makers, such as Chester Finn and Rick Hess. Indeed, they also have been endorsed by E.D. Hirsch, who has long advocated a strong liberal-arts oriented curriculum that includes large doses of history, quality literature etc. that most conservatives have long sought to implement in the schools, to replace the self-esteem and other psycho-babble that has dominated U.S. education . Let us also not bow down to the principle of "local control." Remember, most local districts are heavily influenced by teacher unions and look what decades of local control got us -- one of the lowest performing public education systems in the industrialized world. Let's hope the state board holds firm on the Common Core which, I think, is the last hope to save public education.

grandnanny 5 years, 1 month ago

I agreed with you until you got to the part about local schools being controlled by teachers' unions. Local schools are controlled by local school boards which are elected and often run by people who have an axe to grind. Many have little education themselves. Teachers and teachers' unions have little input into what classes are taught or where the money is spent. The United States does not have one of the lowest performing public school systems in the industrialized world. In fact many countries have tried to copy our system. What we do is educate every child who comes through the door regardless of whether that child is homeless or comes to school without breakfast. We see children who have been beaten and sexually abused. Teachers are the ones on the front lines but they are the ones who get bashed every time someone wants to destroy public education. I have not studied the Common Core but my daughter who is a teacher likes them so I hope it will be what is needed. Unfortunately until children come to school ready to learn teachers will still be faced with daunting tasks. (Sorry there are no commas. That key is not working on my keyboard.)

Mark Thompson 5 years, 1 month ago

The article is mostly accurate in depicting what happened except with the characterization that the speakers were from "many parts of the state". The speakers were mostly from Johnson County and Wichita. If you looked a bit deeper into their backgrounds, I'd venture to say that most of them were proponents of home schooling and private schools - not frieds of public school in the least. This was a very coordinated display that reflects an extremely narrow segment of Kansas. Please pay attention to the words the speakers kept using: bibilical, federal intrusion, loss of freedom, backdoor. These are obvious talking points provided to the speakers. The ultimate irony is the speakers were trying to portray that they were tired of bureaucrats telling them what to do, but every one of them were parroting exactly what someone else wanted them to say. Puppets in a propaganda machine.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Judy Smith's big issue with Common Core is that it's a bit too sciencey for her. She's been working against evolution in the curriculum since 1999 and pushing radical school board members. I'd hate her less if she were merely a homeschooler, but her goal is to teach everyone religion during science class.

NoStandardizedMinds 5 years, 1 month ago

I was going to ignore your blatantly wrong assumptions. However, the public needs to know your remarks are not accurate. Puppets, we are not. We are part of a ground swell of parents, teachers and others discovering the true nature of Common Core and organizing against it. Refer to for a long list of groups in many states across the country. I have a Master’s in Education and am a volunteer reader in low-income public schools. I was one of two speakers from Wichita. Teachers have my utmost respect. Most K-12 public school teachers are dedicated, capable and underpaid . I personally know of good teachers who are getting out, because they are exhausted, not by the children, but from the increasing mandates and excessive standardized testing. They no longer have the time to teach, to inspire.
When I arrived at the Board meeting, I knew only three other “public” speakers and one Legislator. We were not sure whether there would be more speakers or not. It appears you are indulging in projection, assigning your methods to us. We are independent thinkers, not programmed by someone standing in the wings with a paycheck. We bought our own gas and traveled several hours to get there. At least one person missed work. The blind woman who spoke against Common Core is an educator or counselor. You can be sure she came because she believed in her message. After the meeting, as the seventeen of us who came to speak against Common Core were leaving, several of us commented that it is amazing that a group of truly concerned, knowledgeable, passionate citizens, who have not consulted with each other on what to say, can cover the topic in three minutes each, and adjust our remarks to limit repetition. We could also talk for hours against Common Core and the Data mining; I have researched Common Core, since early 2010. I track back to original sources, including Common Core documents. I speak against it to every one who will listen. There are a lot of us out here. Comment below by ABC1234CBA is right on target.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

We're all totally convinced that you're independent and not working together at all, what with the recent batch of freshly registered and/or seldom used IDs to comment on a paper in a city where you claim you don't live. Also, we just fell off the turnip truck and have no idea how astroturf groups are formed.

Clearly your group is totally unrelated to the radical Christian right, so we have no idea why someone would find it suspicious or think your efforts were coordinated. I'm sure it's a coincidence that your site links to a bunch of conservative groups, tea party sites, and the sites of other people testifying. You don't know them. Clearly. What a big coincidence that those other non-puppets all showed up to testify!

ABC1234CBA 5 years, 1 month ago

The Common Core State Standards is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It is simply another avenue of the Federal Government to root itself into our society more. I have to look at issues like this with logic and not emotion. First, there is no Constitutional provision for the Federal Government to have dealings with education and direction to the States on what the subject matters should be. That would be strike one. The second is the failed past of the Department of Education, created under President Carter in 1979. The explosion in education spending hence has not created better students; I would argue it has created more lemmings that independent thinkers. I therefore have no confidence that more government with fix anything - it always makes the problem worse and begs for more government to fix that. That is strike two. The third is the irrational methods that are being proposed. It is unclear to me what the "experts" were thinking drafting these standards, but they appear to be appeasing the ADD culture we currently have. There is no diligence study of the real core subjects of western civilization. They certainly claim there is "rigor", but the methodology does not provide for the complete study of any literary work and the contextual understanding of the text. I have read the CCSS Initiative documents and they are full of the typical bureaucratic BS; the plain simple issue is that Common Core does not teach children how to think - it will only school them for a test - not making them prepared to succeed in the labor market nor at University. I believe in Federalism, the division of government, and in the 9th and 10th Amendments. This is a State issue, Kansas should decide how to educate Kansans. D.C. does not know how best to serve everyone - we are individuals - I certainly do not wish my children to come out carbon copies of their classmates - each robotic in their inability to think for themselves.

Brian Laird 5 years, 1 month ago

You might try reading comprehension instead of flawed "logic". The Common Core Standards are not a Federal initiative and states are free to adopt them or not, so most of your post simply makes no sense.

Megan King 5 years, 1 month ago

It is not flawed logic to see clearly that the states were coerced into adopting a set of standards that were not even written yet in order to apply for much needed Race to the Top money. Kansas did not end up receiving RTTT money, but they did get a No Child Left Behind waiver which states clearly as one of 4 requirements the need to adopt Common Core Standards. These documents are very easy to find on the website. Read the memorandum of agreement, the RTTT application, and the NCLB waiver and put it in a time line you will see there was little choice involved. I would hate for you to have to do your OWN research and form your OWN opinion, just continue to read Lawrences editorial paper that feeds you the narrative so you can spew it back word for word.

Brian Laird 5 years, 1 month ago

I didn't base my comment on what i read in LJW article. Actually, if you go to the site you find out quickly that the documents that you mentioned do not specify this particular set of Common Core standards, but do require that states adopt some set of common core standards, so states would be free to form their own consortia to develop their own standards, if they so wished. In addition, adopting some set of standards is not a Federal requirement or mandate, just a set of conditions for states to be eligible for extra money or a loosening of requirements. It would be irresponsible of the federal government to simply grant the money to states that have no viable, vetted standards - especially a state like KS that has a history of political interference in the promotion of pseudoscience in its standards.

StaceyD 5 years, 1 month ago

This seems to be becoming some kind of partisan issue, but let’s all remember that we were united in our opposition to No Child Left Behind. Why? Because No Child Left Behind was a national standard that limited the ability of schools, teachers, and parents to tailor the education of each child; because it created standardized testing that forced teachers to ‘teach to the test’; because it was underfunded. All were good reasons to oppose No Child Left Behind, and all were non-partisan.

I am happy to see No Child Left Behind ending, but to replace it with another standard that limits the ability of schools, teachers, and parents to tailor the education of each child, creates a standard curriculum that will eventually necessitate a standardized test for that standard knowledge, and is underfunded, makes no sense.

It doesn’t matter where the standards come from, if they are forced upon schools, teachers, and parents, we will be in the same place we now find ourselves and we’ll likely be debating the next ‘fix’ a decade from now.


chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

An argument that would have more weight if the people doing most of screaming right now weren't radical conservatives using tea party language.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the bat signal they left here:

Where I'll add that they completely don't list talking points or attempt to coordinate people to come testify, so why on earth would someone think they were puppets?

Asamatteroffact 5 years, 1 month ago

Leading educators such as Sandra Stotsky, Ze’re Wurman and, and Jim Milgram have found the Common Core standards to be academically inferior to several state standards and to standards from high achieving countries. But even more disturbing is that the standards will lead to a national curriculum, which will become a federal curriculum, which is a really bad idea. There is already a curriculum aligned with Common Core-- the Core Knowledge curriculum. From the E.D. Hirsch web site, this curriculum “describes what children need to learn to meet these [Common Core] standards”. So, we're not just talking about standards. A national curriculum would be a one-size-fits-all system that leaves parents, local educators, and local school boards out of the picture.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

See, it's funny, because the concerns of Sandra Stotsky et al would be the more persuasive argument, but instead you seem to be all about the fear mongering over the idea of federal standards (which these aren't.) Federal standards and a national curriculum would actually be a great idea, so long as those standards were determined by educational experts and not politicians and corporate interests. It's much easier for radical groups to influence local standards, because local voters don't pay as much attention to school board elections. That's how we got creationists on the Kansas school board so many times.

Megan King 5 years, 1 month ago

I completely agree with you stacyD this is not a partisan issue. If you did not agree with NCLB then you should not agree with CCSS.

NoStandardizedMinds 5 years, 1 month ago

Now that all of us who testified at the Board meeting have met and exchanged contact information, yes, we will work together. Our movement against Common Core is part of a larger grass roots movement to return to Constitutional government, rule of law and protection of property rights. Calling us insulting names will not make us go away. Astroturf is organized top down and usually dissolves after an event is over. Grass roots activism is concerned people getting together to solve problems and the movement grows, instead of dissolving.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure who you think you're fooling with this comment, seeing as I already pointed out the Facebook group where you already had each other's contact information. Or maybe you don't know how the Internet works?

BTW, teaching religion during science class is not constitutional. "Intelligent Design" is a religious belief. It's fairly obvious that evolution is the heart of your objections to common core. Well, that and the incredibly hyperbolic belief that common core standards are the next step in the one world government. You should change your facebook background to a tricorn shaped tin foil hat instead of using the "Don't Tread on Me" flag. It would really represent the movement better.

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

Ok, I won't call you any names, but get your facts straight. This is not a mandate by the federal government. Do you tell your mechanic how to fix your car? Do you tell your plumber how to fix your drain? Do you tell your doctor what medicines he/she should prescribe? Why do you keep telling educators how to educate. These standards are higher than most private schools. These standards will ensure that if someone from Kansas moves to Colorado, they won't be ahead or behind. Why do you not care about high standards in education? Why do you not care about consistent education for students who change schools? Why do you think you know more about educating students than professionals know?

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

The name she/he seems to object to is "astroturf." Methinks I struck a nerve. He/she/it also claims to have an MS ED, per the earlier post, although no claims to actually working as a teacher.

I've seen some reasonable and rational arguments against certain aspects of common core, but this group really just seems to be all about fear mongering. My only guess is that it's harder to get your voucher program up and running if public schools show signs of improvement.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

PS - If you want to return to our Constitutional government, does that include all the amendments? Because I suggest some of your group members might want to do some research on that one. By the way, reading the Constitution actually fits into the Common Core standards...

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

The problem with letting states and local areas operate independently, without common standards, should be obvious.

A child born in one place may get a very different, and inferior education than one born in another.

If we really want to make sure that all children in the country are educated well, we'd have to have a consistent national set of standards for education.

Since there are variations in population from place to place, states and local areas should still have flexibility about how to go about achieving those standards, in my view.

The problems with NLCB have more to do with including folks who couldn't achieve the standards, a lack of funding, and the outcome if schools don't achieve the desired standards. But, the idea of nationally consistent standards for education is a very good one, I think.

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

"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."

And these fanatics only deal in myths, they don't like facts.

"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."

Where is the federal government? Where was this Judy Smith when professional educators developed the standards? It's been in the newspapers. I guess, since Fox and social networks didn't report on it while they were being developed, she knew nothing. She had to wait to be told what to think. Where was this Judy Smith when she was being taught critical thinking in school? What a good little robot. Miss Judy, why don't you try and educate yourself before making a fool of yourself in public?

erdkinder 5 years, 1 month ago

"I am a Douglas County resident, and I participated in the Kansas State School Board of Education meeting and spoke about my concerns with Common Core. I can honestly say that this article did not fully represent the content of what was shared that day. Contrary to what was stated, several people spoke about concerns over the content of the standards, especially with regard to the math and English/language arts (ELA) educators who refused to sign off on them because they felt that they were not rigorous enough and lacked balance between study of technical/informational texts and literary works. The article failed to mention the former state Board of Education member who stood up and said that the Common Core initiative was pushed through in 2010 under Governor Parkinson with people really having little knowledge of what exactly they were pushing through.

To be continued

erdkinder 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm still doing research and digging through lots of information to find out what is really going on here. I find it interesting that, in order to apply for Race to the Top grants, states needed to be a part of a consortium of several states (at least five) who agreed to use the same standards. A state was allowed up to 15% of its own content, but that is not much. According to the Race to the Top website, to qualify for a grant, each consortia of states agreed to demonstrate that it would develop an assessment that, "Measures student knowledge and skills against standards from a common set of college- and career-ready standards (as defined in the NIA) The (NIA), notice inviting application, provides the following: "Common set of college- and career-ready standards means a set of academic content standards for grades K-12 that (a) define what a student must know and be able to do at each grade level; (b) if mastered, would ensure that the student is college- and career-ready (as defined in the NIA) by the time of high school graduation; and (c) are substantially identical across all States in a consortium." This means that the standards are not just common across one state but are common across several. I find it ironic that the national not-for-profit, Achieve Inc., along with the two D.C. trade-based organizations, the National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers rolled out drafts of their College and Career Readiness Standards during the grant process. States may have not been technically coerced into these common standards but were definitely highly encouraged as evidenced by the timing involved and the number of states who accepted them so quickly before seeing final copies. I am reading that the U.S. Department of Education was highly involved in the meetings to develop these standards and want to find out more about that. I know that we need accountability and quality education opportunities everywhere, but I am concerned about the nature of the textbooks and materials aligned to national standards. I encourage people who care about our children to deeply research what is going on here. Now, the moment you were waiting for, let's just strip off the layers and get to the real point. Time for me to stand up and be the radical Christian I am called to be! When prayer was taken out of our public schools, God was removed. Confusion results. The purpose of education is not to raise our children to be parts of a governmentally oiled, global, economic machine, though, of course, I don't deny the importance of economics or preparation to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters world-wide. The purpose of education is to one day see the face of God. Wouldn't it be a blessing if that were the standard! I firmly have faith that God the Son, Jesus Christ, will show Himself to us all at some point. Will we accept Him? True happiness can come earlier rather than later.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

In other words, you want to violate the First Amendment and our state constitution.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

"The purpose of education is to one day see the face of God"

Not in my world.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 1 month ago

I wont rehash the obvious fact that this was NOT a federal mandate. In fact these standards were developed by a consortium of educators at the state level because they were not happy with NCLB.

I also find it interesting that the vast majority of the comments fail to present coherent objections to the standards themselves. Most are just focused on the federal gvt as the bogey man.

Point of Fact: There are standards of practice for a wide variety of professional practices (e.g., Medicine, Psychology). Why should teaching be any different.

Point of Fact: I am completely unaware of any penalty for states who set the bar HIGHER than Common Core standards.

Point of Fact: I think what concerns many of the groups who oppose Common Core is that it is designed to teach critical thinking. Can you imagine what Kansans might do in the voting booth if they began to think critically about claims made by Brownback et al?

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