In States Replacing Common Core, Teachers Get In on Standards

By Ross Brenneman — May 19, 2014 2 min read
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Missouri may soon be the next state to drop the Common Core State Standards.

Over at State EdWatch, common-core legislation aficionado Andrew Ujifusa tackles the political background behind Missouri’s change of heart and covers what’s ahead.

The Missouri bill follows close on the heels of Indiana’s adoption of that state’s new I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Not-Common-Standards® in April.

Many common-core opponents hold as a central tenet of their criticism that practicing teachers had no role in the creation of those standards, which is true in a technical sense. The initial workgroups that devised the standards, totaling 29 people, indeed consisted almost entirely of representatives from three companies—Achieve, the College Board, and ACT Inc.—while concurrently created feedback groups contained mostly education professors and one teacher. But the early drafts underwent significant revisions, too, as they were exposed to public comment and other solicited feedback that did include opportunities for teacher involvement.

In Indiana’s case, a large number of K-12 teachers participated in crafting the standards for both math and English/language arts—standards that nevertheless ended up looking a lot like the common core.

What would Missouri expect from its standards creators? The process would be led by two work groups per subject area, with one addressing grades K-5 and the other grades 6-12; the latter will have 17 members, one more than the former. Each panel would be 75 percent “education professionals,” while the remaining quarter would consist of parents. “Education professional” is a vague term; the bill describes it as someone who has taught in a subject area for at least 10 years, or who may have 10 years of experience in that subject matter. That seems ambiguous, but the bill also says that “active classroom teachers shall constitute the majority of each work group.”

Keep in mind, though, that the state would still be using the common core for at least the next couple years, so what exactly teachers will be expected to learn, well ... it probably gets a little frustrating for them. That would be a prominent difficulty of any state that plans to renege on the common core at this point.

Should Gov. Jay Nixon, a common-core supporter, sign the bill, or should the legislature override a veto, it will be interesting to see if the Show-Me State’s teachers decide to branch out more than Indiana’s did. I actually wonder if that’s the point of having a quarter of each work group consist of parents—after all, those parents will be chosen by Sen. Tom Dempsey, the president pro tempore of the state senate, and Rep. Tim Jones, the speaker of the state house, both of whom are Republicans. That Republican base is agitating for a change in standards.

As Sen. John Lamping, another Republican state senator, told the Associated Press, “Every time I get together with a group of anti-common core moms, the crowd is bigger and they’re madder and they’re more informed.”

The quality of that information, however, is another matter.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.