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Questions abound over Common Core

5/24/2013

By MARY CLARKIN

By MARY CLARKIN

Special to The Hays Daily News

HUTCHINSON -- If the Kansas Legislature prohibits the state and school districts from spending money to implement Common Core State Standards, Hutchinson USD 308 Superintendent Shelly Kiblinger will have questions.

What can teachers teach, because many "old standards" are included in Common Core?

Would teachers be barred from teaching critical thinking, which is the heart of Common Core?

And what about textbooks?

During the past couple of years as USD 308 replaced textbooks, it purchased books aligned with Common Core State Standards.

State Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, is at the forefront of a drive to dump Common Core Standards.

House Bill 2289, introduced in February by the House Education Committee, took aim at Common Core, but the bill never reached the full House.

More recently, lawmakers saw the budget bill as a vehicle to ax Common Core spending, but that proviso was taken out of the bill.

Efforts Thursday to reach Bradford were unsuccessful.

Kansas State Department of Education spokeswoman Kathy Toelkes said they had not seen a new bill emerge as of Thursday, the 90th day of a Legislature that is supposed to close shop after 90 days.

Most states embraced Common Core, designed to push students to drill deeper and think critically. The Kansas Board of Education adopted Common Core in 2010.

Critics are concerned about the federal government's role in promoting Common Core. A number of state legislatures have considered anti-Common Core legislation.

The Kansas Department of Education estimated in February it would cost at least $9 million to replace Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts, and even more for carrying out testing changes.

"It could be devastating for us," said Dodge City USD 443 Superintendent Alan Cunningham.

Dodge City was working on Common Core before the state adopted it in 2010, Cunningham said.

Teachers have taken hours of training and lesson plans are built on the Common Core approach, according to superintendents.

There is a focus on literacy and writing and "additional rigor" that wasn't there before, according to Buhler USD 313 Superintendent Dan Stiffler.

Stiffler was optimistic the Legislature would not drop the standards.