Missouri Governor delivers State of the State speech in Jefferson CityFor three years Representative Kurt Bahr has introduced legislation calling for a repeal of Common Core. Yesterday his legislation finally went somewhere. The House passed HB1490 by unanimous vote, but not before amending the bejeebers out of it.

It appears the plan was to add a number of different elements to appease the factions that had formed around the common core debate. Though everyone in the Capitol knew there are problems with Common Core, many of them remained stuck on their particular issue and would not support a repeal of the standards. Admittedly Bahr’s original bill was too narrow in scope to be effective and some changes were necessary. He filed a second bill HB1708 to correct some of those deficiencies, but 1490 became the vehicle that would move forward.

The big amendment came from Representative Bahr himself which would allow districts to continue to use all the new lesson plans they have been developing for the last couple of years that are aligned to Common Core while a review committee looks at the standards and provides the State Board of Education and the legislature with recommendations. This review board, it appears, would become a standing committee of the SBE and would consist of representatives from a number of stakeholders.

This addressed sticking point number 1, the sunk cost argument. Now districts would not feel that the time and money spent to date developing new curricula aligned to common core would be lost.

Representative Thomson added an amendment calling for teacher evaluations to remain in district personnel files and not be shared outside the district or with the state. Given that teacher evaluations will contain personally identifiable data on teachers as well as PII student test scores, this amendment adds some protection for student and teacher privacy.

Representative Spencer’s amendment clarified the make up of the Review Board proposed by Bahr. The board will have representatives from: “a statewide association of Missouri, school boards, a statewide association of charter schools, a  statewide association of school administrators, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president pro tempore of the senate, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the commissioner of higher education, and the heads of state-approved baccalaureate-level teacher preparation programs located in Missouri.”

Representative Rehder added and amendment to the amendment adding 4 parents of enrolled students to this review board. The parents would be selected by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.

And lastly, Representative Montecillo offered an amendment to limit the terms for State Board of Education members to two terms, or a total of 16 years.

A list of the specific amendments can be found here. These amendments allowed long time hold outs like Representative Mike Lair and Chairman of the House Education Committee Steve Cookson to finally come out in support of doing something about Common Core.

The bill now moves over to the Senate.  Meanwhile, in the Senate, Chairman Pearce of the Education Committee has once again delayed a Committee vote on SB514 and SB798 claiming that he wants to consider all “common core” bills at once. He has a student data protection bill that will be heard in his committee today.  On a positive note, it is refreshing to see a sitting chairman admit that data collection is inherently a part of common core. The delay in moving the bills out of his committee, however, could have serious implications for their final passage this session.

Is the “new and improved” 1490 exactly what we wanted? In a word, no. But many things can happen to a bill before it finally makes its way to the governor’s desk. We’ll be keeping an eye on it.

 

Correction : The House perfected the bill yesterday. Tomorrow it will be 3rd read and PASSED out of the House of Representatives. Now is the time to call your representative and ask them to please vote Yes on HB 1490.

 

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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