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Under the Dome - May 20, 2013


Let's be brief...

At least that's what the theme of today's session could have been.

The House arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon and, after adopting one conference committee report, adjourned until 2:00 tomorrow. There were no announcements of any conference committee meetings.

The Senate convened at 2:30 and were done in about 15 minutes. They are, as Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said, "in a holding pattern." Senator Ty Masterson, chair of the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate's chief budget negotiator, announced a conference committee meeting at 3:00 on Senate Bill 171, a uniform accounting for school districts bill.

But by 3:30 no House negotiators had appeared and Senator Masterson announced that he had called the meeting so as to gut SB 171 and put the contents of the House's last budget offer into the bill. If this had happened, the House would have had first crack at voting to adopt the budget conference report and it would have been a test of how much enthusiasm there was in the House for the positions taken by their negotiators. Such drama!

Senator Masterson said he would attempt to call a conference committee sometime tomorrow.

How many days?

Early in the session, Senate President Susan Wagle and House Speaker Ray Merrick made it clear that they wanted everything wrapped up quickly and that there would be a one day veto session. The plan was to be out in 80 days.

We have just finished day eight of the veto session and day 87 of the Legislative session. And still there is no budget report and no tax report. The Kansas constitution allows for a 90 day legislative session so they better get cracking!

OPEN LETTER TO THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE

RE: COMMON CORE STANDARDS IN BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS

The following joint letter from KNEA, KASB, and USA/Kansas was sent to all Legislators on Friday, May 17, 2013. As of today, the proviso to ban spending on implementation of the standards has not been agreed to in the budget conference committee.

Dear Kansas Legislator:

A proposal to block the Kansas State Board of Education and school districts from spending any state funding to implement the Common Core Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, or any assessments associated with the two was proposed late Thursday afternoon during conference committee negotiations on the State Budget. This measure failed to pass either chamber and, in fact, was defeated in the House Education Committee on a vote of 11-7.

Because of the critical impact of such an action on the students we serve, our three organizations - Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas National Education Association, and United School Administrators of Kansas - are joining together in urging you to oppose this or any other actions that would halt or delay implementation of these standards . To this end, we offer the following FACTS to support implementation of the Common Core Standards.

• WE support these Standards because they establish rigorous academic standards in English language arts and mathematics, and define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade to be college- or career-ready upon high school graduation.

• These Standards are included in the Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards and our schools, under the guidance of the Kansas State Board of Education, have already invested significant resources and time in preparing our members to implement the standards.

• The Standards are NOT a mandate of the federal government! They were created through the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. States that adopted the Standards were able to provide input into their development and to add state-specific content.

• The Standards are NOT curriculum, rather they identify where students should be academically at any given time.

• The Standards are benchmarked to international standards to ensure our students are competitive both at home and internationally.

• The Standards provide increased stability and a more seamless transition for students in military families who move frequently during the course of their K-12 education. The U.S. Army Accessions Command and the Military Child Education Coalition have publicly expressed their support for the Common Core Standards.

• Business leaders - such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Boeing, Bayer Corporation, Exxon Mobile Corporation, Xerox, and National Defense Industrial Association - support the Common Core Standards and publicly stated they believe the Standards hold "great promise for creating a more highly skilled workforce that is better equipped to meet the needs of local, state and national economies." (Ref: Open Letter from 73 Business Leaders, New York Times. Feb 12, 2013.)

We are further concerned that action coming at this time will create uncertainty among districts as to what initiatives moving forward would be considered improper and what initiatives already implemented would be allowed to continue. Again, we strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to de-fund or otherwise halt the implementation of the Common Core Standards in our state. Join us in ensuring that Kansas students continue to be among the most college and career ready, both at home and in the world.


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