House Committee hears Common Core debate

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- Heated debate over Common Core returned to the Kansas Statehouse Wednesday as the House Committee on Education heard public opinion on a bill that would abolish the controversial education standards.

The hearing lasted two hours and so many people were signed up to speak, they were limited to just a minute-and-a-half. That was still enough time for many impassioned comments for and against Common Core.
Comments came from Kansans who worry Common Core is the federal government's attempt to control education.

"We feel we can do better," said Kristin George, a mother from Pratt who spoke against Common Core. "We feel like the control needs to be back at the local level and the state. Right now, with Common Core, it's not our control and we feel we can do much better as Kansans for ourselves."

Though Common Core has been championed by President Barack Obama, it is not a federally mandated program. Proponents of the standards, many of them educators, were quick to point that out.

They said the Kansas standards for math and reading adopted in 2010 were developed in Kansas and each school district can control its curriculum.

"The entire curriculum that will be taught in the Olathe School classrooms has been written by our local teachers," said Olathe School District Superintendent Marlin Berry.

Those who want legislators to pass House Bill 2621, which would abolish Kansas' Common Core, also argued the math and reading standards are not rigorous enough.

Teachers said that is not true and everything students learn must have a real-world connection to it.

"They're looking at different perspectives," said Dyane Smokorowski, an Andover Middle School teacher. "(They're) debating, looking at even the possibility of consensus and collaboration with students; not only locally, but globally."

Rep. Kasha Kelly, R-Arkansas City, the Education Committee's chairwoman said she wants to facilitate a forum between supporters and foes of Common Core as well as those who develop the state's education standards to solve the Common Core debate.

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