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Under the Dome - May 31, 2013 part 2

Senate now goes after common core

The Senate Ways and Means Committee met today do craft an anti-common core standards bill.

The Senate had never discussed the common core standards and there was never such a bill introduced in the Senate. One had been debated in the House Education Committee where it was defeated. But common core conspiracy theorists would not be deterred. It seems that they were dogged enough to demand that they get their way even if it meant blowing up the state budget bill.

You might recall they tried adding it to the budget as a proviso but gave up on that when the conference committee was told the proviso would likely be unconstitutional. Word under the dome after that was that they had vowed to hold the budget hostage until the Senate passed and sent to the House a bill prohibiting spending on the common core standards.

Well, such a bill is now being considered by the Senate. A meeting was announced out of the blue for this afternoon and a bill draft was dropped. This bill is different from the House bill in that it suspends spending on the common core standards implementation for one year while a legislative committee is formed to study the standards, the assessments based on those standards, and to determine if "such standards conform to Kansas educational values." This committee will make recommendations to the 2014 legislature.

All the provisions suspending the common core standards will sunset on April 15, 2014.

The bill must now be debated in the Senate. That debate could come tonight.

So while this issue still floats out there, you are encouraged to contact Senators and Representatives representing your school districts urging them to oppose any effort to de-fund the implementation of the Common Core Standards. Explain the investment your districts have already made in implementing the Standards and that they establish rigorous academic expectations in English language arts and mathematics. The Common Core Standards are part of the Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards and define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade to be on track for success in college and career.

Use these talking points:

• A bill banning the common core standards was heard in the House Education Committee where it was defeated on a vote of 11 to 7.

• There was no such bill introduced or heard in the Senate.

• It is a clear violation of the spirit of representative democracy and the legislative process to take a bill that was voted down in committee and was never heard at all in one chamber and then to insert the provisions of that bill into a comprehensive budget bill for all state agencies.

• The bill has not passed either chamber and so it is wrong to even consider such a proposal in a conference committee. This action violates the legislative process.

• The Common Core Standards are not an initiative of the federal government. They were created by state Governors and Chief State School Officers. They represent the best efforts of the states to align standards in order to prepare every student for a career or post-secondary education.

• The State Board of Education is responsible for ensuring the success of the public education system of Kansas. The members of the State Board approved participation in the Common Core Standards and it is they who work to ensure that Kansas schools will have the strongest standards for instruction. Adoption of this proviso strips another elected body of its constitution authority to oversee public education in Kansas.

• Our schools have already invested significant resources and time in preparing our staff to implement the new standards. We support the Common Core Standards because they will improve instruction and help ensure that every Kansas child graduates from high school career or college ready.

• Please reject any effort to prohibit the common core standards.

Use the KNEA legislative contact web portal to email your representative and senator:

New tax plan

In the meantime, a new tax plan has emerged. This time, they'll apparently try a 6.1% sales tax. It will run first in the Senate. Maybe tonight.

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