Speaker warns Republican group of federal education overreach

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Missouri's public schools are losing control of their educational curriculums, according to a representative of a group opposed to federal standards in education.

"Who is deciding curriculums and assessment testing in Missouri schools?" Gretchen Logue of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core asked members of the Cape Girardeau County Republican Women's Club during a Friday luncheon.

"It's not local administrators or even officials at the state level. It's the U.S. Department of Education bypassing state law by implementing the Common Core standards," she said.

Logue said Common Core standards are a set of reforms developed by a group of progressive educators with the support of the U.S. Department of Education. Missouri, she said, was coerced into adopting the standards to obtain grant money for its Race to the Top program application and when the state applied for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind program.

"Local school districts can either adopt Common Core in the classroom or use their own ideas," Logue said. "But what district will choose a curriculum that doesn't teach to state assessment tests that follow Common Core guidelines? Not many," she said.

Logue said implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri did not follow state law.

"The state Board of Education had to obtain legislative approval to change the state's educational curriculum," she said. "They did not obtain this approval either prior to or after signing on to Common Core."

The standards were adopted by the state board in 2010, and 44 other states also adopted them.

According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, standards "clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level in the areas of math and English/language arts. The standards focus on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the early grades."

Logue said the reach of the Common Core standards will not be limited to the areas of math and English/language arts.

"The reality is that standards for social studies and science have already been written and are expected to be approved soon," she said.

Two bills that have the support of Logue's group have been introduced in the Legislature to nullify Common Core standards in Missouri. State Rep. Jason Smith of Salem, Mo., who is the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress for the 8th District to replace JoAnn Emerson, said he would have to study the legislation before he makes a decision.

"But we need to make sure our school districts remain under local control and aren't being dictated to by the federal government," he said.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in materials about the standards that the standards help prepare students for college and other types of postsecondary training and education.

Dr. Sherry Copeland, assistant superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District, supports the Common Core standards.

"We have to prepare our students for a global society," she said. "I think the students in the Cape schools want to keep learning. There's an academic rigor in Common Core, and there's also individuality for students.

Common Core standards were adopted by the Cape Girardeau School District in 2011.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

236 S. Broadview St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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