Lawrence school district superintendent Rick Doll said today that the Common Core standards for math and English language arts have become so politically charged, he doubts they will remain long as they are currently written.
“We think they're positive,” Doll said during remarks at a Lawrence Rotary Club luncheon. “But I'll be honest with you, I think they have become so politically charged that I'm not sure that it'll be implemented in its present form.”
The Common Core standards have been at the center of a political firestorm at the Kansas statehouse in Topeka, and in several other state legislators around the nation.
Initially, they were a state-led initiative by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and they were intended to ensure that students were prepared to enter college or the workplace after graduating high school.
But critics have charged that the standards have become a kind of federal mandate, and an intrusion by the federal government into a policy area traditionally left to state and local governments.
“The discussion about Common Core is 99.9 percent political. You just need to know that,” Doll said. “So that has been wrapped up into politics, both the right and left, conservative and liberal.”
The Kansas State Board of Education formally adopted the Common Core standards in October 2010, with little fanfare or controversy. This year, however, will mark the first year that students in Kansas will be given state assessments based on those standards.
States participating in the project were allowed to add their own state-specific content, as long as those items make up no more than 15 percent of the total content. Kansas added additional content to incorporate career and technical education material related to reading and math, and the state board formally named those combined standards the “Kansas College and Career Ready Standards.”
Last week, the Kansas House Education Committee held a hearing on House Bill 2621 which would nullify the standards and require schools to return to using the previous reading and math assessments.
Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, the lead proponent of the bill, admitted in an interview with the Journal-World Feb. 14 that he had not read the standards but believed the federal government has no authority to interfere in state education policy.
Doll, however, said there is nothing controversial about the content of the standards themselves.
“If you look at the standards – unlike some of our legislators who have not looked at the standards – you would read them and go, 'Oh, that makes sense.'” Doll said. “There is nothing in the standards, other than the rigor – they they are more rigorous than past standards.”