Saturday, May 11, 2013
Ed Emery: What you need to know about Common Core Standards
There is just one week remaining in the 2013 regular legislative session, and every minute is critical in either stopping bad legislation or passing good. I am pleased that this week the Missouri Senate perfected and passed Senate Bill 210, which is scheduled for a hearing in the Missouri House on Monday. Senate Bill 210 would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to conduct at least one informational public hearing in each of Missouri’s congressional districts before it is mandated statewide.
If you are not a government employee or a regular reader of my Capitol Reports, you may not have heard of “Common Core” — the government’s latest initiative to establish a set of national educational standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics. Many parents and guardians don’t understand what these standards are and the negative consequences that could occur with this program. Most of the states that have signed onto this giant initiative did so before the standards were even written. Some of those who helped develop the standards refused to sign off on them. You probably didn’t know that either. If education is one of the most important keys to success in a person’s life, shouldn’t parents understand what is happening in their kids’ schools and the effect Common Core could have on Missouri?
The eight public hearings required by Senate Bill 210 are to help Missourians better understand the Common Core State Standards. According to the bill, at least two weeks prior to the first of the public hearings, DESE would need to estimate the projected cost of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. DESE is also instructed to have Missouri Commissioner of Education Dr. Chris L. Nicastro in attendance at each meeting to ensure your questions are answered, not just recorded. I expect the bill to pass and the governor to sign it, so watch for an announcement for a meeting in your area.
One of the biggest concerns regarding Common Core is the cost it imposes on the states. According to one report titled the “The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States,” estimates of the Common Core’s phase-in costs have varied from $3 billion to $16 billion nationwide. For Georgia, specifically, testing officials stated that although current tests cost taxpayers $5 per student per year, the new testing model will cost $22 per student per year — a 440 percent increase. Approximately 80 percent of the nation’s public isn’t educated about the Common Core State Standards, and we must question whether it is in the best interest of our state to spend this type of money. Do you agree that it is unwis0e to spend such a large sum of money blindly with no clear definition or assurance of an intended outcome?
Common Core proponents claim that the Common Core initiative will raise the standards of education, but the opposite seems more accurate. When compared to the metrics of Core Knowledge Foundation — an organization that publishes books outlining what high quality schools expect in each grade — it’s shown that Common Core standards fall behind. “Core Knowledge” students learn about money in kindergarten math class, whereas Common Core students don’t embark on this subject until second grade. Core Knowledge students begin learning multiplication in second grade, while Common Core doesn’t teach multiplication until third grade.
Another issue with Common Core is students’ privacy. According to the report on Common Core, “…a 2009 stimulus bill earmark required state databases to begin tracking, among other things, students’ religious affiliations, family income, family voting status, health care history, and disciplinary records in conjunction with student test scores. These records will span preschool to workforce entry and will be linked to Common Core tests.” Privacy for Missouri citizens has been a primary concern this legislative session, and we should adopt the same principles of confidentiality for our education system.
A one-size-fits-all education program that does not address the needs of particular states is not the best plan for Missouri or any other state in my opinion. I encourage you to read the report linked above and research how the Common Core State Standards would affect your school and children. You may contact my Capitol office with questions about Common Core; I would be happy to be of assistance. Thank you and God bless.