TOPEKA, Kan. (Feb. 19, 2016) – A Kansas bill that would withdraw the state from Common Core standards passed out of an important committee on Wednesday. The legislation represents an important step toward nullifying nationalized education in the state.
House Bill 2676 (HB2676), titled the Local Control of Kansas Education Act, was introduced on Feb. 10.
HB2676 is nearly identical to last year’s bill, House Bill 2292 (HB2292), with only minor updates. HB2292 received a hearing and a vote in committee last year, but did not make it out of committee.
On Wednesday, a motion to reconsider HB2292 in committee was successful. This was followed up by a successful motion to substitute HB2676 into the bill, and finally a motion to pass Substitute for House Bill 2292 (Sub for HB2292) out of committee was successful. The legislation will now move on to the full House for consideration.
The legislation declares “the state shall retain sole control over the development, establishment and revision of K-12 curriculum standards,” and forbids any Kansas entity or official from ceding any authority over Kansas education to any entity not explicitly named in the Kansas Constitution.
Furthermore, the bill mandates that no Kansas entity or official shall “condition or delay a decision on academic standards or curriculum according to the decision of any consortium, organization, any other state government, the federal government or any other entity not explicitly allowed authority over education in article 6 of the constitution of the state of Kansas.”
The proposed law then goes on to void any past or future action taken to implement Common Core or other national education standards.
“Any actions taken by any education entity or any state official to adopt, implement or align programs, assessments, testing, surveys or any educational materials or activities to the common core state standards, the social, emotional and character development standards, the national curriculum standards for social studies, the national health education standards, the national sexuality education standards, core content and skills, K-12 or any other academic standards not in the public domain, free of any copyright, are void beginning July 1, 2017.”
The bill mandates that new academic standards shall be developed through a state process and stipulates that they will be “model” standards. Local school districts maintain the authority to formulate their own curricula and develop their own standards under the proposed law.
The bill also features provisions to protect student privacy and preserve parental control over any data collected about their children, protecting students from intrusive data mining and collection programs that often come with initiatives like Common Core.
While HB2292 represents a powerful step toward permanently ending Common Core in Kansas, the process it not without its potential pitfalls. As Shane Vander Hart at Truth in American Education said about a similar bill passed in Tennessee last year, many Common Core replacement bills end up being little more than “rebranded” versions of the same program. Even if the new state standards completely reject Common Core, it doesn’t mean the state won’t continue to allow the federal government to influence its education system. It will require public and legislative vigilance to completely push the feds out of education in Kansas.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Up until recently, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress this month now prohibits the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.” But under the new federal law, states still must comply with College and Career Ready Standards, based on Common Core, as a condition for receiving some federal dollars. It also requires the federal education secretary to approve each state’s plans for standards and assessments.
Even with the federal strings partially cut from Common Core for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standard simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice, and freedom. Passage of this legislation into law represents a positive step forward for the people of Kansas and a path for other states to follow.
If you live in Kansas: click HERE and follow the instructions to help get these bills passed.
If you live in another state: click HERE for information on Common Core initiatives in your state.
Blake Branson, Kansas Campaign for Liberty deputy state director contributed to this report.
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