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Kansas Lawmakers Unabated in Influencing Education

Opinion Press - May 20, 2013 10:34 am

The Hays Daily News

The Hays Daily News

Kansas lawmakers might be at an impasse regarding how to fund public education and other state activities for the next two years, but efforts to influence what is taught in the classroom continue unabated.

Unthwarted by attempts to banning Common Core standards that couldn’t make it out of committee in either chamber, the Senate Ways and Means Committee chair is attempting to insert a proviso into the budget. Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, presented a measure that would prevent state money being spent to implement the academic standards that were devised by educators throughout Kansas and the nation.

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

We would argue there is similar general resistance to the state government imposing as well.

The education community has invested years creating a replacement for the despised No Child Left Behind standards. Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with input from teachers and administrators to revamp the standards for K-12 English language arts and mathematics. The goal was to better prepare students for both college and careers while putting control of curriculum at the local level.

The plan is so good it’s been adopted by 45 states, including Kansas.

But Masterson and other legislators believe it’s all part of the federal takeover conspiracy. Once President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said they supported Common Core, there have been numerous attempts throughout the country by the hard right to get rid of the standards.

This budget proviso, if adopted, also would block school districts from using state money for any assessments affiliated with the Common Core. As the SAT and ACT tests already are being revised to reflect the new standards, this would prove problematic for Kansas students hoping to attend college.

The proviso also prevents the Next Generation Science Standards — another national effort with Kansas educators leading the way — from being implemented. Criticism of this endeavor focused on the notion that evolution was being promoted. We’re guessing it was being “promoted” in the same fashion as gravity and centripetal force. It is science, after all.

This truly isn’t a laughing matter. A small group of our legislators, unable to get any of these proposals to the floor of either the House or Senate, is using a backdoor approach to force politics and religion instead of education on our students, teachers and administrators. If the proviso is accepted into the budget language, the only way to prevent its implementation is by rejecting the budget.

In the past two years, lawmakers have proven themselves incapable of mastering mathematics. We have no faith they’re any better with science or English.

City of Salina