Kansas Common Core critics voice concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Critics of the Kansas Board of Education’s decision to adopt national standards for math and reading urged the board on Tuesday to reconsider its decision.

Opponents of the Common Core standards, which were developed by a national consortium, spent nearly two hours criticizing the standards during a public comment session that opened the board’s two-day monthly meeting.

Walt Chappell, a Wichita consultant and former board member, said Kansas was “sucked in” by proponents of the standards when they were adopted by the state in 2010, giving away too much authority to a consortium and eventually the U.S. Department of Education.

“This is a process that isn’t going to be good for kids,” Chappell said.

Kansas is among 46 states that have adopted the national standards, which set out the academic expectations for students from kindergarten through high school. Kansas adopted the standards in 2010 and school districts have begun implementing them in the classrooms and in teacher training.

More than a dozen critics in addition to Chappell took turns in 3-minute increments to lobby the board to rethink its decision, citing a recent decision by Indiana to halt the standards. They argued that standards would stifle creativity and lead to more federal intrusion in the classroom through data collection.

“They are not pawns in a global economy,” said Tina Jenkins of Eudora.

Supporters, including a representative of the Kansas Association of School Boards, said the standards would improve academic rigor. Tom Krebs of the KASB said his organization supports the new standards because they mesh with its goals for improving Kansas education.

Board Chairwoman Jana Shaver said the 10-member panel would take all the comments under advisement. The board did not respond to the concerns raised during the meeting.

Rep. John Bradford, a Lansing Republican and member of the House Education Committee, told the board that a measure to withhold any state funding to implement Common Core had failed to clear the committee level. However, Bradford said based on what legislators know now, he believes the measure would pass, citing the expected cost of $60 million to $180 million to implement it in Kansas.

“We know it will be enormous and Kansas cannot afford it. This is not the best economy at this time,” Bradford said.

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