We wonder sometimes what gets into members of the Kansas Legislature.
Take state Rep. Willie Dove, a Bonner Springs Republican and member of the House Education Committee. He thinks Kansas students will benefit if the Legislature kills Common Core reading and math standards along with the state science standards, which provide for the teaching of evolution.
The measure Rep. Dove is pushing would prohibit school districts from giving tests associated with Common Core standards. Additionally, it would establish a 19-member committee that would take an active role in advising the Kansas Board of Education on future education standards. The committee’s members would be appointed by the governor, legislative leaders, the Kansas Board of Regents and the KBOE.
This proposal is an ideologically driven step backward and is unworthy of serious consideration by Kansas lawmakers.
Both Common Core and the science standards have the blessing of the Kansas Board of Education, which is constitutionally authorized to set statewide education policy. In fact, the state board adopted Common Core in 2010.
Common Core standards have drawn vocal criticism from conservatives in Kansas and elsewhere, perhaps because the White House and Department of Education support the standards. Rep. Dove, who told the Lawrence Journal-World last week that he doesn’t think it’s “within the scope of our federal government to put something together when it comes to education,” also acknowledged that he hasn’t yet seen “the actual content of Common Core.”
That’s too bad. He and other opponents might learn something. They might learn that the federal government didn’t put Common Core together. It was initiated and developed by governors and education officials from a number of states, including Kansas, and it benefited from the comments of thousands of private citizens. So far, 45 states have adopted the standards.
As Microsoft founder Bill Gates, an ardent supporter of Common Core, said in USA Today last week, Common Core’s standards “are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.”
It’s wrong to dismiss the standards because they have the president’s support or to argue that Common Core gives Washington improper authority over states and local school districts.
Instead, opponents ought to move beyond the myths and preconceptions and learn how these standards can help Kansas children achieve their potential.