Kansas lawmakers question Common Core

TOPEKA, Kansas  (KSNT) – Kansas Common Core standards were under fire at the statehouse Monday afternoon as the House Education committee considered a bill that would repeal those standards all together.

The group Kansans Against Common Core has been working to repeal those standards for three years.

They believe it’s a once size fits all approach that leaves many struggling students behind, but after Monday’s committee hearing, a few local educators made it clear they completely disagree.

Even before the hearing, those who want common core out of Kansas’ schools rallied to show their displeasure, and for two hours, the committee heard the good and the bad.

When it was all over, nobody’s position had changed.

“If anything, Common Core has given us more freedom,” said David Barnes, a math teacher at Topeka West High School.

Barnes taught before common core became the standard and since. He says he likes the new requirements.

“They’re more rigorous, and they allow teachers much more freedom to get kids where we know they need to be and prepare them for the things we know they need to be ready for,” said Barnes.

And many school administrators agree.

“The standards are higher and they’re clearer and they require students to learn more in depth of the content that we’re teaching,” said Marty Stessman, Superintendent of Shawnee Heights Schools.

But as a former school teacher himself, one critic says many of those standards are too high for struggling students and will create divisions among students.

“A lot of our standards are age inappropriate, in other words they’re too high, especially at the elementary level that you’ll see a widening of the achievement gap,” said David Dorsey, and Education Policy Fellow with the Kansas Policy Institute.

Many critics are also concerned that the common core standards directly infringe on states’ rights, they say there’s just too much interference from the federal government.

But supporters maintain it’s the best way to attain high standards and ensure that students across the nation are achieving the same success.

The House Education Committee has yet to decide whether it will vote on the bill heard Monday afternoon.

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