Lawmakers and teachers debate the necessity of federal standards in Missouri schools
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Lawmakers and teachers debate the necessity of federal standards in Missouri schools

Date: February 20, 2014
By: Emma Nicolas
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1490

JEFFERSON CITY - Teachers, parents and lawmakers debated the necessity of Missouri schools abiding by nationwide standards, Thursday Feb. 20.

The Common Core Standards is a list of education requirements designed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and supported by members of the federal government.Schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia have implemented this program.

The standards contain a list of skills and knowledge that a student must attain at each grade level. At the end of each year, students are tested to ensure they meet the requirements. The program requires teachers to prepare students specifically for these tests.

Republicans nationwide have been criticizing this program since its initial release in 2010. Among them is Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, who has proposed a bill that will ban these standards from Missouri schools.  

Bahr said the the Common Core testing program is too costly, and he also said test scores are predicted to decrease over the next three years.

This year's teacher of the year, Jamie Manker, testified in opposition to the bill and said that since the tests will be more difficult she would be shocked if test scores did not decrease as a result.

"If my tests did not receive lower tests scores, then my tests would be bogus," Manker said.

Manker said the Common Core Standards do not tell her how or what to teach, they are just standards. She said it makes her expect more of her students.

Dr. James V. Shuls, an education analyst from Show-Me Institute, testified in favor of the bill and said these were not just standards, but instead a way for central government to infringe on education at the state level.

"Standards and curriculum are like love and marriage. You can't have one without the other. Curriculum are developed from standards. Standards design the tests. Teachers then have to be trained to those tests. We have to change colleges of education and their programs. We have to change everything to start to align to these standards," Shuls said.

Shuls also said the federal government has in no way been a benign part of the implementation of the Common Core Standards. Several testifiers said the federal government has been supplying incentives to generate support for the program. Heather Kesselring, a home educator, said she's spoken to multiple teachers that are witnessing the federal involvement within Common Core.

"I have a friend who is a teacher that got coupons essentially to go get free pizza if they would send in positive information on Common Core. If this this is such a great standard, then why are we having to use tax payers dollars to sell it?" Kesselring said.

The vote on this bill will not be held until next week.

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