Friday, May 17, 2013

Budget provision would block state funding for Common Core standards

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

The top Senate Republican budget negotiator on Thursday urged passage of a measure that would prohibit the expenditure of state funds to implement Common Core reading and math standards as well as new science standards in public schools.

Kansas formally adopted Common Core standards in 2010, saying they would help prepare students for college and careers. Numerous school districts throughout the state, including Lawrence, have spent the past two years getting teachers ready to implement them.

But recently, the standards have been attacked by several conservative groups.

State Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he believed a majority of senators opposed the Common Core standards.

"There is a general resistance to the federal government imposing on our schools," Masterson said.

Common Core standards have been adopted by most states, and started as a project of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers.

During a meeting of the House-Senate conference committee that is working on a state budget, Masterson proposed a measure that would block state funding for the next two fiscal years for Common Core standards and what are called Next Generation Science Standards.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka and the ranking Democrat on the budget conference committee, criticized the measure proposed by Masterson.

"I don't know why my colleagues keep throwing our education system back toward the Stone Age," Kelly said.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said that many districts are already implementing Common Core standards.

"This just leaves districts kind of adrift as to what they're actually supposed to be doing," he said.

On the science standards, Kansas was among 26 states that took a lead role in drafting them. But some have criticized early drafts of the standards, saying that they promote evolution.