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Standard-setting education workshops off to strained start

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – This spring’s last week of legislative session in Missouri left the usage of common core as an education standard in Missouri off the table – but this last week’s education workshop had the controversial standards creeping back toward the surface.

House Bill 1490 was passed during the last session, and was ultimately designed to both reject and revise the federal common core standards for education. The intent of HB 1490 is to instead create workgroups which will meet, assess, and create an original set of Missouri- based education priorities.

“This bill requires the State Board of Education to convene separate work groups on English language arts, mathematics, science, and history and governments whenever it develops, evaluates, modifies, or revises academic performance or learning standards,” reads HB 1490.

The result was the Missouri Educational Standards workgroups made up of Missouri parents and educational professionals, purposefully apart from politicians and bureaucratic devices.

“The state board and the department are prohibited from requiring local districts to use any appendix to the Common Core State Standards,” reads HB 1490.

The parents and teachers attending the workshop expressed the agenda material was unnecessarily simplified and the called upon decision making and goal-setting was nearly absent. Much of the unrest was a result of a the clash between the Republican legislative leaders who aimed to fully dismiss common core from Missouri, and those wishing to aimed to revise the federal education standards.

The workgroups turned from controversial to juvenile according to Toni Becker, a Secondary Science Workgroup member. Becker said “the facilitator brought out a ball and began to throw it to members of the group. A question was asked and the ball signaled the participant’s turn to answer the question posed.”

Tonya Long, a member of the Elementary History/Government Standards Workgroup, said she was caught off guard when consensus was sought with a thumbs up and thumbs down approach among all adults when deciding whether or not a subject was to be discussed further.

“It was strange to see a room full of very competent adults with their thumbs up in a meeting of such magnitude,” Long said. “We needed meaningful discussion, not silly games.”

Jones
Jones

House Speaker Tim Jones, who was entrusted to appoint 16 parents and 11 educational professionals to the mandated workgroups, was unimpressed by the ongoings and outcome of the workshop.

“Our goal with the workgroups is to vest decision making authority in Missouri parents and teachers who have the best interests of our young people at heart,” said Speaker Jones. “The people of this state have made it absolutely clear they oppose the Common Core standards and that they want Missouri citizens and educators, not government bureaucrats, making the decisions that will impact the educational future of our children”.

The work groups are set to finalize and propose recommendations to the State Board of Education by October 2015.