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Common Core standards will soon be a thing of the past in Kansas

— The Common Core educational standards for reading and math, long a source of intense political controversy, will soon go by the wayside in Kansas.

But they aren't going away because of political opposition or the continuous demands from conservatives to have them repealed. Instead, they are being updated and replaced on the regular seven-year cycle that applies to all educational standards in the state.

"I think it was mostly widely spread misunderstandings of what it was all about," Kansas State Board of Education member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said about the controversy. "Because if you listened to the criticisms, it was criticizing the sex education standards, things that the Common Core standards required a bunch of controversial readings and all that sort of thing. There really wasn’t anything to that, that I could find."

Willard is one of only four people on the state board who was serving in 2010 when the Common Core standards — officially known here as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards — were adopted.

In August, the board officially approved new, updated standards in math. And on Tuesday, it will receive the final draft of new English language arts standards, with final approval slated for November.

Once that happens, the Common Core standards will become a thing of the past in Kansas.

For most of the past seven years, Common Core was erroneously cast as a federal mandate from the Obama administration, and an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into a policy area traditionally reserved for state and local governments.

In fact, though, the effort to develop a set of uniform, national standards began around 2008 as a state-led effort, driven by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Kansas State Department of Education was an active participant in the writing process.

But they became linked to the Obama administration starting in 2009 with the adoption of the Race to the Top grant program, a $4.35 billion competitive grant that was intended to spur innovation and reforms in public schools. That program was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the Recovery Act, that was passed in the immediate aftermath of the financial collapse that led to the Great Recession.

To be eligible for those grants, states were required to adopt rigorous academic standards in reading and math, which could mean the Common Core standards or something similar to them.

Kansas adopted the standards in 2010, but the state board specifically chose not to apply for a Race to the Top grant, with members saying at the time that they thought there were too many other federal strings attached to the money.

Despite that, there were numerous attempts in the Kansas Legislature to force a repeal of the standards, the most recent one being in 2016.

Critics in Kansas often could not point to anything specific in the standards that they objected to. They did, however, object to the Obama administration's role in coaxing states to adopt them, and to the fact that they were written largely by out-of-state officials and were not drafted specifically with Kansas schools in mind.

Willard, a conservative Republican himself, successfully pushed back against those efforts as one of the board's liaisons with the Legislature. He now says that he hopes the new standards will tamp down the criticism.

"I think over time they will," he said. "Critics are going to have to be specific about what they don’t like rather than just lumping every criticism into the Common Core bucket. I have not heard from anyone with criticisms of them at this point. But you know, it’s not the political season. It’ll be revived when the Legislature goes back into session."

Jim McNiece, a Wichita Republican who has been on the board since 2013, said he thought the criticism of Common Core was overblown.

"How many different ways can you say you’re going to have to know how to use a comma?" he asked rhetorically during a phone interview Monday. "But, as you well know, there was an attitude or belief that the federal government was telling us these are the standards we had to have."

McNiece said he noticed much of the anti-Common Core fervor in Kansas began to fade last year after the state board came out with its new "Kansans Can" vision for public schools, which calls for top-to-bottom overhauls in the way public schools address the individual needs of students so they are ready for college or a career by the time they graduate high school.

"We gave people a sense of direction and purpose," McNiece said.

Brent Wolf, a middle school English teacher in Derby who chaired the review committee that oversaw the new English language arts standards, said they are written to be more easily understood by the general public and to align directly with the state board's Kansans Can vision.

"So if a third-grade teacher is teaching fact and opinion, (he or she) is going to know why that is important as a Kansas high school graduate," Wolf said.

Comments

Ralph Gage

"teaching fact and opinion..." What does that mean?

1 month ago

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Bob Summers

It means. A coagulation of conjoining facts, highlighted with perfunctory conditioned opinion, elucidating the cohesiveness of split diversity objectives, profoundly altering the original thesis, to the point of enlightened critical thinking that is relatively meaningful to the folk running the inculcation centers called government schools.

1 month ago

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Thomas Bryce Jr.

Wow Bob! Did you have to catch your breath and get a nap after that one?

1 month ago

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Jillian Andrews

Bob writing about "critical thinking" -- oh the irony! LOL!

1 month ago

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Phillip Chappuie

I have not figured out why a set of uniform standards and benchmark measures for academic success and outcomes was ever a bad thing. It essentially creates a level field for gauging expectations for all students nationwide. But I guess too many conservatives are afraid the kids will wind up smarter than they are. So the march backwards continues.

1 month ago

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Bob Summers

The march backwards. American students cannot break the worldwide top twenty in reading, math and science.

...and the bitter clingers march on. What are you all shooting for? 25th place?

1 month ago

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Thomas Bryce Jr.

A Family member(nephew) just aced his ACT and missed acing SAT by 50 points. Going to U of Mich.(8th). on a full ride in Aerospace. Some are marching forward, some are not. Isn't that how it has always been?

1 month ago

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Bob Summers

Congratulations! You must be very proud!

1 month ago

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Brian Seveland

Well, Bob, your President seems to be very popular in the states with the most uneducated residents. Given that you're stuck here in the middle with us, might I suggest you try Mississippi or Alabama? Move on, and you'll be amongst your own people. Go on... and bless...

1 month ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

The countries above us are performing better, because they all have common standards, you know, like Common Core. They concentrate on critical thinking in math, reading and science. We have a nation that has different standards in each state, and In some states across school districts. We do not have common standards across the country. I will guarantee you that a student in Kansas would fare a lot better than a child in Mississippi. That is what Common Core wanted to eliminate. And these other countries get education advice from experts in education, not politicians and preachers.

So, Bob, you are against common standards. Since you are such an expert in education, what would you suggest? Rote memorization? That's not what these tests measure. They measure problem solving skills. Getting rid of teacher's unions? The top countries all have strong teacher's unions. What's our solution?

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/comme...

1 month ago

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Paul Beyer

Have to keep the children ignorant, otherwise they will never vote republican.

1 month ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

All that work for the teachers, out the window, because conservatives don't want kids learning critical thinking skills.

1 month ago

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William D'Armond

When was the last time any of you idiots stepped foot in a classroom? I have 2 teenagers and the common core philosophy of teaching that was implemented during Obamas tenure has done absolutely nothing beyond make are children dumber. Teaching kids to multiply on their fingers because they are taught grouping in elementary school.

Hell most "Qualified Teachers" coming out of our "Higher Learning" establishments aren't any smarter than the system they teach. Look at the headlines on any national news agency and you will see at least once a week, a report of one of them doing something stupid. Recent headline, "Teacher Tells Students to speak American".

If you're not a parent with school aged children, sit down and shut up.

1 month ago

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Greg Cooper

The irony of one with your English writing skills telling us your two teenagers are "dumber" for being exposed to something you neither understand nor accept is totally rich. Your "examples" of inadequate education are, at best, uninformed and, at worst, made up for the purpose of defending your ignorance of the Common Core educational standards. From where do you glean your facts about the intelligence of "Qualified Teachers"?

Most of all, William, I am only one of many who have no children in school who will not "sit down and shut up". I will not ignore idiocy in argumentation at any time, and especially when uninformed people like you demand that I ignore the opportunity to call you out for your pitiful attempt at painting educators and educated people as beneath your supposed dignity.

When you can make a cogent argument void of fact-free rhetoric, get with it. Until then, William, perhaps you should take your own advice. Or, better yet, stand up and go acquire the education you so obviously did not get and apparently don't want your two teenagers to enjoy.

1 month ago

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Bob Summers

When will students crack the worldwide top 20 in math, science and reading proficienies?

1 month ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

When we start doing what those countries do. But you are against that.

The countries above us are performing better, because they all have common standards, you know, like Common Core. They concentrate on critical thinking in math, reading and science. We have a nation that has different standards in each state, and In some states across school districts. We do not have common standards across the country. I will guarantee you that a student in Kansas would fare a lot better than a child in Mississippi. That is what Common Core wanted to eliminate. And these other countries get education advice from experts in education, not politicians and preachers.

So, Bob, you are against common standards. Since you are such an expert in education, what would you suggest? Rote memorization? That's not what these tests measure. They measure problem solving skills. Getting rid of teacher's unions? The top countries all have strong teacher's unions. What's our solution?

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/comme...

1 month ago

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William D'Armond

Wow Greg, so should I call you Mr. Cooper. You come at me like you are one of the developers of the Common Core curriculum. Did you right the teachers lesson plans? Are you one of the personnel sitting on the board that determines what should be the standard for each grade level? You come off butt hurt in your response.

You are fighting for something that you know little to nothing about. You, yourself said you do not have a child in the system. For someone who has not dog in the fight, you sure are coming at me like you have rabies.

I am all for a structured lesson plan and standardized teaching. Common Core has swayed so far from the basis that it was supposedly designed around that the logical output from this system does not have the ability to read a tape measure, micrometer, or god forbid something as simple as a ruler. They put more emphasis on the format of an essay then the content of the essay.

I may not be as versed in the English language as you are, but I am College educated. I have seen the lesson plans in math, science and social studies that my children bring home. They try to make learning simple tasks like multiplication as ridiculously difficult as possible. There is no handwriting anymore. My children receive 3 months of how to write in cursive in the 3rd grade and have never revisited it since.

I do not believe that I am better than educator by any stretch. Most of the teachers in our society have less than 10 years experience and are teach curriculum dictated to them by the Common Core philosophy. That is not their fault. The problem I run into with most of the teachers I have found, is they are miserable in their careers. They could care less, they lack the people skills that are required to educate a young mind.

For someone who doesn't know, maybe you should go sit through a 7th graders day. Guarantee you walk away a little dumber and probably find what I am saying to have a little truth to it.

1 month ago

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Greg Cooper

No, Mr. D'Armond, I did not have a hand in developing the CC methods. And, no, I do not have children in school, whatever that has to do with anything. I have, however, been trained as a teacher, have followed education through my children' experience, have actually read the Common Core as it applies to Kansas, and have participated in several discussions with people who actually know what they're talking about in terms of educational philosophy and Common Core.

Buddy, I have sat IN seventh grade classrooms, as a practicing studen teacher, as well as various other grades, so don't accuse me of ignorance of teaching method, ideology or curricular knowledge. And, yeah, I'd guess a great number of teachers have less than ten years in the classroom, but I can tell you, with certainty, that a lot of that comes down to dealing, not with kids, but with the ignorance of the kids' parents as to what it takes to educate a kid, along with the attendant folderol of the parents who only hear one side of the failing kid's story.

Now, from your response, I can tell you that you have no idea as to what Common Core is all about. The purpose of the program is to teach, not only rote memorization, but thinking and reasoning ability. Part of that ability is being able to discriminate between emotional and factual argument. When one has the facts, one has the right to express them with emotion. You, sir, are short on fact and long on condemnation of that and those you don't understand. That you find teachers to be short on people skills, sir, might quite possibly be a result of your closed mind.

Also, "college educated" and "I went to college" are quite different concepts, Mr. D'Armond. College educated folks will rarely blame the institution for their poor reasoning and communication skills. Those who simply went to college generally don't know the difference. Just my opinion, though. Take from that what you will.

1 month ago

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JoAnn Heins

I am a master 4th-grade teacher with over ten years of experience. Here is what I can tell you. Before the Common Core, we had few to zero textbook companies who wrote books based on Kansas Standards. Teachers pulled together mish-mashed things to make sure the KS standards were covered. Textbook companies only make books that work for their highest market. Typically, Califonia and Texas. KS standards did not match them. Now, we are able to get curriculum that covers what we are required to teach. So students in California, Arkansas, Michigan, etc... are all working at on the same playing field. To be honest, I do not like some of the choices the Common Core Standards have made. I believe they need to be evaluated by many people and fixed. However, I do like all the students in the USA working toward the same goals. Improvements do need to be made. Undoubtabley. But getting us on the same page is the right thing to do. Focus on improving instead of hating. Just my two cents.

1 month ago

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