HB1490 required the State Board of Education to hold three public hearings on the standards development process. Monday October 26, from 1-3:00 p.m. will be the last of these hearings. The Board is in receipt of the standards documents submitted by all eight work groups. They have also been sent two minority reports, one from ELA 6-12 and one from Science 6-12. From here on the review process takes place according to the language of HB1490 (160.514.4 “The state board of education shall also solicit comments and feedback on the academic performance standards or learning standards from the joint committee on education and from academic researchers.”) culminating in the Board approving a set of standards in March 2016. It would be nice to say that Missouri approached its goal of being a top 10 state by 2020 in one metric, the development of state owned standards, but given all the shenanigans that happened with the work groups and what other states have experienced as they tried similar processes, it is far more likely we will remain in the middle of the pack because we seem to be doing the same thing as the others.

Indiana was one of the first states to pass legislation against Common Core and to implement a process to develop new standards. Because the people at the table in that process were so obviously pro-common core, and because federally funded outside experts like Shujie Chin from the the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) came in to influence the process, those standards are said to look very much like Common Core.  Some have said they are even worse. State Board member Andrea Neal called the new replacement standards “empty skill sets” which have made the weaknesses of the common core even worse.

South Carolina was another state to pass legislation against Common Core but, due to similar influences, they too have standards that bear a remarkable resemblance to Common Core. Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) was quoted in Breitbart News saying, “By the state Education Oversight Committee’s (EOC) own admission, the ‘new’ replacement standards are 90 percent aligned with Common Core.”

Oklahoma passed HB 3399  in 2014 amid cheers from the anti-common core sector. The bill even passed a constitutional challenge. But the mindset of teachers and administrators is to keep Common Core standards in place in many school districts anyway. Dr. Keith Ballard, Superintendent for the Tulsa School District is typical of top administrators. He told the Daily Caller,  “Tulsa’s teachers had been readying themselves for Common Core’s full implementation for more than three years, and had crafted new lesson plans accordingly. Ordering them to do an about-face less than three months before a new school year was a “highly unfair” demand that simply could not be met.” With lesson plans, textbooks and worksheets already purchased, and professional development done, school districts are not ready to move away from the status quo any time soon.

Even the tumultuousness of the standards development process experienced in MO is not unusual. A subset of our ELA 6-12 work group broke away from the work group process after repeatedly being shut down and shut out of discussions in work group meetings. Similar frustration was felt in Alabama on their Common Core Review Committee.  Margo Guilott, a retired educator who sits on the committee to review the English standards, said she and others submitted a proposed, additional standard to improve student creativity.

“By noon on Oct. 13, 2015, when we met in Alexandria, it was evident to me that the intent of the review process of the English Language Arts Committee was to minimize the number of changes to the existing document,” Guilott said in her letter to Sanford.

“In fact, 95 percent of the changes I had proposed that resulted from our meetings with teachers in St. Tammany Parish were not even considered in my small group,” she wrote.

Guilott said that, when she learned the proposed standard would not be added, “I was more than disappointed.

“For me, the fact that the group would not even entertain the possibility of including one standard that focused solely on creativity was not acceptable and is the reason I am resigning,” she wrote.”

Reported in The Advocate

This has always been the strength of the Common Core Standards approach. Obtain industry buy in early on to develop materials aligned to the standards to take advantage of economies of scale, an especially desirable feature for publishers who were shut out of certain states because it was economically prohibitive to provide customized materials for them before Common Core. Sneak the standards into schools as part of their normal standards update process and then use the natural entropy of the field of education to keep them in place, along with bogus sunk cost and superiority arguments. It really was a diabolically clever plan.

Monday will be the public’s last chance to let the State Board of Education know what they think about Common Core and the “new” standards developed by the work groups. You can review those documents yourselves here.  The meeting will be held at the State Board Room in the DESE building, 205 Jefferson Street, 1st Floor, Jefferson City, MO from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The public should plan to come early if they wish to testify.

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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