Staff editorial: Effort to end national curricula is harmful

The sixth bill to end Common Core and AP classes keeps students from being college and career ready

JagWire staff

For the sixth time, the state has introduced a bill that gives the state control over current curriculum, including Common Core standards, advanced placement and dual credit, and in which they can ban outside curricula. This bill passed the House and could eventually pass the Senate as well. It may be appealing to reject Common Core as a federal overreach into education, but losing national and statewide standards would lead to an inefficient and inadequate educational system.

With opponents of Common Core being mostly conservative, it is likely that the bill would pass through the Senate, where the Republican party holds 80 percent of the seats. GOP Gov. Sam Brownback favors local control of education, making the bill likely to be signed into law if it ends up on his desk.

State and national standards are integral to our current educational system. They regulate what teachers need to be teaching to their students at each grade level, which helps students become adequately prepared for the future. The bill’s passage would require individual districts to rewrite their curricula for each class and each grade level. At the state level, it can take two years to change educational standards, according to past precedent — not including individual class curricula. This would be incredibly inefficient for the school district to devote its time and money to.

It makes sense why some oppose Common Core: Many, in Kansas especially, do not like the idea of the federal government having a say in state curriculum. However, a complete rewrite  could cost up to $9 million, as estimated by Kansas’ budget director in a memo — something that a state in debt cannot afford.

There are some positive aspects to Common Core which would be lost with the bill. The standards promote critical thinking skills, according to many educators who testified to the state.  Additionally, the standards’ emphasis on language skills prepare students not only to further their education, but also to communicate in the workplace. In short, Common Core’s rigorous standards can make the U.S. more globally competitive.

The current bill does not only apply to Common Core. It would also disallow curriculum for AP, ACT preparatory and career and technical education courses, as these curricula are derived from outside groups or statewide standards. Dual credit courses would likely not be allowed under the bill as well, since the curricula and tests come from colleges outside of school districts. Although the bill’s supporters argue that the bill can be updated to not affect these classes, Kansas shouldn’t rely on that.

Parents and students who care about AP, dual credit and other college and career preparatory courses, along with Common Core, should contact their legislation to speak against Kansas government’s continual effort to thwart state and national curricula. The district’s lack of opposition and general reaction to this effort is counterproductive in preparing students for college and a career. With many issues already affecting Kansas’ educational system, it is not worth the time, money or effort to keep drafting bills that hurt education.

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