Kansas Adopts Mediocre Science Standards

CCS Parent Rally @ KSBOE Mtg. 6-11-13

The Kansas Board of Education met on June 11th with a packed room at the Kansas Department of Education building in Topeka, KS.  Walt Chappell reported standing room only where people had to stand along the walls and in the hallway to watch a TV monitor.

He wrote to me in an email:

We had at least 30 citizens show up to the KSBOE meeting yesterday against the CCS.  The Board changed their agenda so that only Superintendents and supporters of CCS could speak first.  Then at noon, the Chairwoman declared that since there were still 40 more speakers who had signed up and Common Core was not on their agenda, the rest of us would have to come back next month. 

Her obvious attempt to silence public comments was met with a loud and resounding “NO!!”  Other Board members then spoke up and said that since we had driven from all over Kansas to have 3 minutes each to speak, that we should be heard.

Consequently, at 1:15pm, the public comments started again for those citizens and legislators who are opposed to implementing the CCS and the national assessments.  I passed out and made part of the official record, the email and documents which I sent to you and the Board on Monday.

The public comment section did not end until nearly 3pm after nearly 4 hours of testimony.  That was twice as long as the May 14th KSBOE meeting public comments. 

Afterwards, it was very clear that at least half of the Board realizes that there is major resistance from parents and the legislators who also came to speak out against implementing the CCS—and especially the national adaptive tests where data on individual students will be collected. 

All of the citizens and legislators who attended did so at their own expense and took a day off of work to voice their concerns about moving forward to implement Common Core curriculum and assessments in Kansas.

However, the school personnel who came, had their salaries and mileage paid for by taxpayer money at no cost for them to attend.

Each Superintendent kept repeating how the CCS are supposedly “more rigorous” and “will teach deeper thinking”.   However, none of them offered any evidence or data to show that their claims are based on even one pilot study anywhere in America.

It was a wonderful example of how parents who are finally getting informed about this massive untested, unfunded Federal takeover of every school in Kansas, are rallying across the state to protect the privacy of their children and take back our schools.   They are making their voices heard to ask that our elected local and state school board members stop implementing Common Core until they receive factual information on the costs, educational benefits and how the privacy of their students will be protected.

The Kansas reading and math standards are just fine.  So, parents are asking why spend millions of tax dollars on a massive, untested experiment when those funds are needed in our classrooms?

The Kansas State Board of Education voted 8 to 2 to adopt the next round of centralized standards after the Common Core – the Next Generation Science Standards.  They did so contrary to the objections of parents and 40 state legislators.

They adopted, according to Fordham Institute, subpar science standards.  Chester Finn and Kathleen Porter-Magee in the forward to their final review of the standards said:

Having carefully reviewed the standards, however, using substantially the same criteria as we previously applied to state science standards—criteria that focus primarily on the content, rigor, and clarity of K–12 expectations for this key subject—our considered judgment is that NGSS deserves a C.

Before you gasp or grump or lash out, let us remind you that, only a year ago, twenty-six state science standards received grades of D or F from our reviewers, while twelve also earned Cs. Just thirteen jurisdictions—one in four—had standards worthy of honors grades. Only seven earned grades in the A range.

Frankly I think a C is too high, but here’s the kicker – this is what they had to day about Kansas Science Standards.  They had given Kansas’ standards a B and said they were clearly superior.

Now to the states that have a D or an F (my state of Iowa has a D from Fordham with their science standards) they are going to see this as an improvement and an argument for alignment.  Why shoot for mediocrity even if you don’t have the best standards?  Fordham said to consider states that have an A like California, D.C, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virgina, as well as the NAEP and TIMSS framework.

The eight members of the school board who voted in favor of this need to be held accountable.