Kentucky Enquirer, Fort Mitchell, Jan. 18, 2014
Ky. Republicans want to repeal Common Core
GOP bill would remove standards from state
by Scott Wartman
Kentucky became the first state in 2010 to adopt the national education standards known as Common Core. Now, after more than 40 states have adopted the same standards, some Republican lawmakers will try to remove Common Core from Kentucky.
House Bill 215, filed by State Rep. Tom Kerr, R-Taylor Mill, would repeal Kentucky’s Common Core standards.
“Common Core takes the control of local schools out of the teachers and parents that are involved with the children and their education,” said Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Lakeside Park, one of 10 Republican legislators to co-sponsor the bill.
Supporters say undoing Common Core in Kentucky would set the state back several years.
The standards have support from Democrats but have seen mounting Republican opposition.
Repealing Kentucky’s Common Core standards will face the high, if not insurmountable, hurdle of a Democratic-controlled House and a Democratic governor who has supported Common Core.
Common Core is a set of academic standards for schools across the country that rely heavily on critical thinking, problem solving and the use of technology.
Kerr, and other Republicans, have argued against national standards, believing it should be left to the states and local school districts.
Common Core, however, did not originate with the federal government. A group of educators gathered in 2009 by the National Governors’ Association drafted Common Core standards. Many of Common Core’s critics have decried the U.S. Department of Education for limiting grants to states that have adopted Common Core or similar standards.
“It is a federalization of the curriculum,” Kerr said. “Congress passed these laws only because it was promised that wouldn’t happen, and I think that is happening.”
The U.S. Department of Education tied its “Race to the Top” grants to states that adopt Common Core or similar standards. The U.S. Department of Education doled out $120 million of Race to the Top grants in December, including $30 million to the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative that includes 18 Eastern Kentucky rural school districts.
Kerr’s bill would prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education from implementing these standards and direct the state board to develop and recommend new standards to school districts.
The Republican National Committee has passed a resolution opposing Common Core and many Greater Cincinnati GOP committees, including those in Hamilton, Boone and Kenton counties, passed the same resolution.
The Democratic House majority and many in the education community, however, have seemed satisfied with Common Core. Many dismissed the argument that Common Core represents a federal takeover of Kentucky’s education system.
Kentucky teachers had input on the standards and the Kentucky Board of Education voted to adopt the standards, said Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Since Kentucky was the first state to adopt Common Core, the state created its own tests. Schools also have freedom to build their own curriculum.
“I would be surprised to find any organization that supports tossing them outright now,” Hughes said. “What we would have to do is start from scratch.”
The movement to repeal Common Core is more about politics than education, said Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who is a former teacher. He didn’t think it would get past the House Education Committee – which he chairs.
“This all started with talk radio after the 2012 election,” Graham said. “I think this is where common sense needs to come in to take over."