Senate discusses Common Core Standards

On March 26, the Senate Education Committee took a look at two bills that would halt the implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri. The bills, Senate Bill 514, sponsored by Sen. John Lamping (R-St. Louis) and Senate Bill 798, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar), would block the implementation of the standards for at least one more year.

The Missouri Chamber is supportive of implementing Common Core Standards in Missouri, and planned to testify in opposition to the bill, but were not allowed to due to time constraints. The bill will have a second hearing the week of March 31-April 4.

Four years ago Missouri’s State Board of Education adopted the national “Common Core” standards, in June 2010. The standards began about eight years ago as a joint promotion by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices, and were launched by many states in 2009.

Sen. Lamping wants lawmakers to stop the implementation of Common Core until the state has had an appropriate amount of  time to understand exactly how Common Core will change the education system.

Lamping and Sen. Ed Emery said adopting the Common Core education standards removed the state’s, and nation’s, long-held belief that schools should have “local control” of their education and curriculum decisions.

However, Michael Brickman, a Missouri native who now is national policy director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Washington, D.C., testified before the committee that the institute has been studying state standards “for about 15 years” and, in 2010, reviewed the English and math standards of every single state and compared them with the Core.

“The Core standards were good enough to earn an A-minus in math and a B-plus in English.”

According to that study, Brickman said, Missouri’s standards for both English and math only scored a D, “making them among the worst in the nation. In both subjects, while not perfect, Common Core standards are clearly superior to those they replaced.”

He urged the lawmakers to stay the course and continue implementing the Common Core.

According to Brickman, passing either senator’s bill would leave Missouri radically apart from the nation as a whole, and would ensure that Missouri has the single-worst standards in the nation.

Jason Dale, associate director of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, also said his group supports the Common Core.

“All my members’ companies in Kansas City — and companies all around the state — must have a highly skilled, 21st century workforce to be competitive,” he told the committee. “These standards have been internationally bench-marked, so they will make us competitive with areas around the world and not just around the country.”

The Common Core standards “establish consistent learning goals for all students (and) provide a clear road map of academic expectations,” he added. “They’re relevant to the real world.”

For more information about Common Core, please contact Missouri Chamber General Counsel Jay Atkins at jatkins@mochamber.com or Brian Crouse, vice president of education programs, at bcrouse@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Common Core standards stir discussion, debate

A project to develop national standards for K-12 instruction was a topic of debate in Jefferson City this week.

The discussion centers on the Common Core state standards. The standards were created as part of a project by the National Governors Association in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers. The project was aimed at improving student achievement in response to studies showing that many high school graduates were not adequately prepared to enter college or the workforce.

The standards for math and English language studies were released in 2010 and were adopted in Missouri and 44 other states. Most Missouri school districts have implemented the Common Core.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the Common Core as a way to ensure that the business community is receiving well trained young people prepared to compete in tomorrow’s globally competitive economy.

However, the project is receiving continued scrutiny in Missouri and elsewhere.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, Common Core opponents had their say during a House hearing on House Bill 1708, which would prohibit the implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles.

Those who oppose the Common Core argue that the creation of national standards encroaches upon individual states and their educational systems. Some are also concerned about how data gathered to track student performance and health will be stored and used. Others go further with accusations that the Common Core will be used for political agenda setting or social engineering.

In its support of the Common Core and Missouri’s educational system, the Missouri Chamber is hopeful that both sides can come to an understanding on this issue. To be prepared for the economy of the future Missouri must have a highly-educated, innovative workforce that can compete in the global marketplace.

For more information about education issues, contact Jay Atkins, Missouri Chamber General Counsel, at 573-634-3511 or by email at jatkins@mochamber.com.