JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The House Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness, Efficiency and Accountability met today in a hearing that largely became about the implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri
Parents from around the state testified before the committee about their concerns surrounding the new program, which would require schools across the state to adopt new standards for Mathematics and English.
Jill Carter, a parent from the East Newton School District, said her school board told her their “hands were tied” in implementing the new standards and that local control was at stake.
“If a local school board will lose accreditation with the state if they don’t adopt these new standards, then were is the local control?” Carter told The Missouri Times. “The Missouri State Board of Education says that local school districts are the guardians of education in the state. How can they be the guardians if they are being dictated to?”
Officials from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) also spoke at the meeting, stressing that while adoption of new standards was required of all districts, methodology and curriculum in order to meet those standards would be left up to the local school board.
Concerns about Common Core standards have grown in the last year, as the state prepares to fully implement the standards, which have been piloted over the last few years in districts around the state. The standards will also require many schools to conduct certain regular examinations online through an electronic program implemented by the state. Some of the parents who testified cited this technology requirement as another concern.
During the 2013 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers offered but did not pass legislation requiring public hearings to be held on Common Core in every congressional district in the state. The law would have required that DESE be present and provide information to the public about the standards and that all meetings must be held before money or full implementation is granted. DESE has conducted several of these meetings since May, despite being under no statutory requirement to do so.
Parents at the Tuesday hearing said the DESE meetings have not been helpful so far.
Stacy Shore, a mother of three, said that at the public hearing she attended, DESE officials read from talking points and did not respond to submitted written questions from the citizens. DESE representatives flatly denied this charge to The Missouri Times.
“It’s my tax dollars and this is my children’s education,” Shore said to the committee. “But when I persist with questions, I’m treated like a zealot or something, and I’m just a concerned parent.”
Legislation has been offered in recent years to completely prohibit common core from being fully realized in the state, but the legislation has never been successful. Several conservative members of the committee hinted that appropriation of funds for the new standards could be a tough battle if DESE isn’t able to adequately quell legislative concerns.
The Missouri Times will be publishing an in-depth examination of Common Core standards in Missouri in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for further updates.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.