Common Core is not a threat

Commissioner right to defend standards

By The Mercury

It’s good to see that Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker has decided to respond to the Kansas Republican State Committee’s resolution last week condemning Common Core education standards in Kansas.

It’s also good that she has some tact. She says her response to what was a provocative, even hostile, resolution would be “friendly,” and that her goal is to “clear up some of the myths and some of the false information.” She wants to “sit down and talk about this.”

Whether the Republican State Committee’s members are in a listening mood is unclear, but they certainly didn’t mince their words in their Sept. 14 resolution.

Echoing allegations by groups associated with the tea party, the resolution says the Kansas Board of Education’s adoption of the Common Core standards “Obliterates Kansas’ control over English language arts and mathematics standards…” It also says adoption “implicates the state in an unconstitutional and illegal transfer of power to the federal government and unaccountable private interests.”

Adoption of Common Core also “commits our state to a set of mediocre standards based on questionable philosophies and imposes an enormous unfunded mandate on our state and on our local school districts.”

There’s more, including the allegation that the Kansas Board of Education adopted the standards “without meaningful input” from parents, teachers and other taxpayers and the allegation that the standards are part of a “scheme” that will threaten student and family privacy without serving any academic purpose.

The State Republican Committee demands that the state reject the standards and withdraw from any association with Common Core.

We’re not sure where members of the Kansas Republican Party were in 2010, when the KBOE adopted the standards, or for the two years before that when the standards were publicly debated. Maybe Republicans just didn’t think that what the KBOE did mattered, or forgot that the board has the authority under the Kansas Constitution to adopt education standards it deems appropriate.

As for the claim that adoption of Common Core “commits our state to a set of mediocre standards,” we marvel that members of the Republican State Committee could say that with a straight face. It’s not the standards that are mediocre. It’s state funding. Members of the GOP State Committee should be thrilled that despite inadequate state funding, Kansas school districts continue to provide a solid, often outstanding, education and will continue to do so under Common Core standards.

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