Thursday, January 16, 2014

Like We Have Money to Burn

House Bill 215 would prohibit Common Core, Next Gen Science, 
and Waste Millions in Kentucky Teachers' Time and Effort since 2010 

Yesterday, eleven Republican members of the Kentucky House of Representatives submitted House Bill 215, which if approved by the Kentucky General Assembly, would not only outlaw Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards, and any assessments tied to them, but would waste millions of dollars already spent, along with countless hours of Kentucky teachers' time and effort to implement the dictates of Senate Bill 1 (2009). The bill would also "require" Kentucky to spend millions more developing a new curriculum to satisfy SB1 - an Act the General Assembly did not fund the first time - and absolutely no one believes the General Assembly would fund new measures now.

The Kentucky Department of Education estimates that dismantling CCSS would cost the state's schools tens of millions of dollars. "Since Senate Bill 1 (2009) requires new standards, we estimate it would take a minimum of $35 million to develop, train teachers, and implement replacement standards in English/language arts and mathematics." That doesn't count money that would have been lost on the Next Generation Science Standards.

Earlier this week, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd threw out a poorly conceived, and clearly political, anti-Common Core suit brought by TEA Party activist David Adams of Nicholasville. Adams is the President of Kentucky Citizens Judicial, an entity whose motto is "Restoring Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time."

Opposing the Common Core State Standards has become a cause célèbre among right-wing conservatives since April of last year, when the Republican National Committee signaled its political activists to oppose this previously conservative idea as a means of continued opposition to President Barack Obama. Moderate Republicans still count themselves among some of the strongest supporters of Common Core. 

To be fair, the Obama administration brought this on themselves when Education Secretary Arne Duncan forced adoption of CCSS into the federal Race to the Top competition. This heavy-handed leverage of favored corporate education reform approaches (along with school choice, high-stakes testing, and Draconian teacher evaluation schemes) has turned a national multi-state effort to assure rigorous education standards focused on college- and career-readiness, into a federalized political football.

Opposition to Common Core centers around the question of whether the federal government is overstepping its bounds by - illegally perhaps - intruding into the states' business by prescribing a set of curriculum standards, which is specifically outlawed by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. 

Students of education history will recall that it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who, encouraged by Martin Luther King, Jr., first used a "carrot and stick" approach to desegregate the public schools - a cause that is fundamental to U. S. citizenship. 'Desegregate your schools, and you will be eligible to share in $4 billion dollars of ESEA compensatory education funding. Fail to desegregate, and we just might send in federal troops, and we'll withhold your state's share of federal dollars to boot.' A decade after Brown v Bd of Education, barely 1% of black students attended school with whites. By the 1970s that percentage had grown to 75. It worked.

But this approach was also used by President George W. Bush - absent the troops - to force states into high-stakes testing. The schools are critically important for a prosperous nation, but not in the same way guaranteed rights of citizenship are. Initially Kentucky resisted NCLB, under the belief that the CATS assessment was a better testing system by itself than it would be with the annual NCLB tests layered on top. But the Bush administration insisted on pushing its education agenda. 'No tests, no money.' Kentucky could not resist the federal dollars, and the state capitulated. Kentucky's fears proved to be valid when in 2009 Senate Bill 1 was passed in an effort to kill the CATS test. Most Kentucky students were (and probably still are) spending as much as a fourth of their instructional time in test preparation. 

The desegregation of our society (which was largely accomplished by the desegregation of our schools and military) seems a worthy reason for President Johnson to have used such federal power. After all, history has taught us that it is not the state government that guarantees citizens their constitutional rights. The federal government must do that. But when the federal government intrudes into less critical areas, such as school tests and curriculum, it invites criticism. 

Multi-state standards which assure that any recipient of a U. S. high school diploma is ready for college or career, is a fine idea. On the other hand, House Bill 215 is a political act that would foolishly waste scarce resources while failing to improve the schools.

HB 215 (BR 342)

Sponsors Thomas Kerr (R-Kenton), Diane St. Onge (R-Kenton), Myron Dossett (R-Christian), Joseph Fischer (R-Campbell), Mike Harmon (R-Boyle/Washington), Kim King (R-Anderson/Mercer/Spencer), Stan Lee (R-Fayette), Tim Moore (R-Hardin), Sal Santoro (R-Boone), Russell Webber (R-Bullitt),  Addia Wuchner (R-Boone).
     AN ACT relating to public school standards.
     Create a new section to KRS Chapter 158 to prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education from implementing the English language arts and mathematics academic content standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and the science academic content standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative; require the state board to recommend new content standards to school districts and schools after consultation with the Council on Postsecondary Education; require public involvement in standards development; clarify the authority of the local board of education to adopt standards which differ from or exceed the standards approved by the state board; clarify that the school-based decision making councils shall develop policies based upon the standards adopted by the local boards of education; prohibit state officials from ceding control of education content standards and assessments; prohibit withholding of state funds from school districts for adopting different academic content standards; amend KRS 156.070 to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information; direct the Kentucky Board of Education to require that the Department of Education and all school districts adhere to transparency and privacy standards when outsourcing data and Web-based tasks to vendors; clarify vendor contract requirements; amend KRS 158.6453 to permit a local board of education to supplement the state board-approved academic content standards with higher and more rigorous standards and require school councils to use them to fulfill curriculum policy requirements; amend KRS 160.345 to clarify school council curriculum policy authority.
     Jan 15-introduced in House
Here’s the new language: 
AN ACT relating to public school standards.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
(1)       Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education shall not:
(a)       Implement the academic content standards for English language arts and mathematics developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and copyrighted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers;
(b)       Implement the science standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative led by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; or
(c)       Use the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or any other assessment based on the Common Core Standards or Next Generation Science Standards.
(2)       Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core Standards or the Next Generation Science Standards as of the effective date of this Act are void.
(3)    (a)          The state board, after consultation with the Council on Postsecondary Education, shall approve and recommend to school districts and schools academic content standards to replace the academic content standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science currently in use.
(b)       A local board of education shall adopt for use by the school district academic content standards, including standards that differ from or exceed those approved by the state board.
(c)       Pursuant to Section 4 of this Act, a school-based decision making council shall adopt curriculum policies necessary to implement the academic content standards adopted by the local board of education.
(4)       No official of the state, whether appointed or elected, shall enter into a contractual agreement on behalf of the state or a state agency with any consortium, association, or other entity if the agreement would require the state or state agency to cede control over academic content standards and assessment of the standards.
(5)       The state board shall post for a minimum of ninety (90) days public notice of any proposed revision of academic content standards on the department's Web site and shall invite comments on the proposed changes from the general public, including parents, teachers, experts on college and career readiness standards, representatives of nonpartisan institutes, and political, educational, and faith-based organizations.
(6)       The state board shall not finalize revision of any academic content standards until the board holds a public hearing in each congressional district in the state. The board shall post notice of each hearing on the department's Web site and in the newspaper with the largest circulation in the respective congressional district.
(7)       Any academic content standards approved by the state board shall be limited to the subject areas prescribed in KRS 158.6453(2)(a) and shall be developed using the process and criteria specified in KRS 158.6453(2)(b) to (f).
(8)       Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, state funds shall not be withheld from a school district or school for failure to adopt or use the academic content standards approved by the state board. No school district or school shall be required to use any academic content standards based upon the Common Core Standards or Next Generation Science Standards previously adopted by the state board as a condition for receiving state funds....

Later in Section 3, 6. (k)...
Section 3.   KRS 158.6453 is amended to read as follows:
 (k)      A local board of education may supplement the academic content standards approved by the state board with higher and more rigorous academic content standards, and a school council shall use them to fulfill curriculum policy requirements pursuant to Section 4 of this Act.

And in Section 4, 2. (i) 1....
(i)        The school council shall adopt a policy to be implemented by the principal in the following additional areas:
1.      Determination of curriculum, including needs assessment, curriculum development and responsibilities under KRS 158.6453(7) based on the  academic content standards adopted by the local board of education in accordance with Sections 1 and 3 of this Act;


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that Stan Lee has signed. For being such a family values guy, I wish he'd clean his up act. He looks somewhat like a 70's star in adult film.

KY Teacher said...

I know it's a long shot, but Heaven help us if this thing passes. Those poor math and ELA teachers who are just now getting Common Core under their belt will have to go through the upheaval of new standards all over again, and for what? There's nothing wrong with Common Core. There's no political indoctrination--they don't even contain any social studies standards.

This should be renamed the "Educational Anarchy Act" because it encourages every little educational fiefdom (we have 170 school districts in KY) to chooses any set of standards it wants----except for CCSS or NGSS, of course. So the authors want you to have local control, but only as long as you don't decide to use the ONE set of standards that is now in place statewide and that is being used in the majority of other states. Does that mean KDE will have to develop a new test for every district, or will they all be teaching their own unique standards and then failing a common statewide test miserably? How much would that add to the cost?

Is a district that has spent the last three years doing PD for Common Core really going to decide to scrap all that work and start all over again? If this bill passes it appears the option still exists for a district to voluntarily choose Common Core because only the state is forbidden to use it, not the districts. Small districts that are already short on funds would likely just keep on using the standards they already have in place rather than spend money they don't have to develop new ones and buy new books, at least until the new standards from KDE are available. At a local level this abominable bill probably wouldn't have an immediate impact in most districts until the new standards are developed. How long would that take and what happens in the meantime?

This is such a mess!

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of this has to do with common core at all but rather a generalized discontent by some educators and parents with how education policy has been approached in this state.

(1) Create a piece of well intentioned legislation with enormous, long term expectations, (2)use this as a justification to allow KDE to impose whatever it unilaterally determines is best under a fabricated sense of immediacy and media hype, (3) legislature not only doesn't fund the ed reform legislative expectations but actually reduces funding (resources, personnel), (4) KDE tries to sell a highly ambitious reform plan in hopes of getting fed RTTT funds in the absence of state funding (which doesn't happen). (5) Keep plodding down the path of increasing state reform expectations in practice and accountability while funds diminish, all the while pointing to educators as the point of ineffectiveness. (6) See state interventions result in greater work for teachers without equal proportionate student growth, (7) See KDE not only impose practice expectations but then continue to alter them after implementation thus undermining trust in practitioners, (8) see isolated student performance increases being credited by KDE leadership to reforms which were actually the result of a cumulative effort started before SB 1 reform initiatives were ever in place. Now mix that all together in a pot and let it simmer over the fire for over half a decade and you are going to get a pretty bad tasting stew boiling over.

Like the other contributors, I don't see anything particularly wrong with common core. I believe it is simply a tangible, symbolic target for folks who are fed up with how educators are being treated and are tired of a government who seems to believe it knows what is best for its citizens when it can't even run its own house (underfunded retirement system, corrupt cabinet members and legislators, in ability to implement tax reform, etc).

Holliday, King and other know this are using KY as their spring board to move on. Soon they will be gone in the next year and a half and then Kentucky educators will be faced with a year of flux and then another set of folks from outside who are going to "fix" us.

Neither Appalachians, Kentuckians or Americans are quick to embrace external forces of "one-size-fits-all" change when they are being unilaterally forced upon them by folks who think they know better than the people who have been busting their tail for years trying to do what is right for their fellow citizens and their children.

Anonymous said...