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Kansas budget proposal could halt new education standards

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 9:33 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 17, 2013, at 9 a.m.

— The implementation of new education standards could come to a screeching halt under a proposal floated by Republican lawmakers Thursday.

Republican budget negotiators said they’ll consider a move to block any money that would be spent to implement Common Core standards for reading and math or Next Generation Science Standards in Kansas’ public schools.

The idea to derail those standards, approved in Kansas in 2010, emerged early during this year’s legislative session. But it failed to gain traction.

Attaching it to the state’s budget could, however, give it new life.

The Common Core standards are part of a nationwide move that stems from years of debate as education officials sought new and improved standards, particularly in reading and math. They aim to improve students’ base understanding of key topics by delving deeper into them.

Many Kansas school districts have already implemented the new standards or are in transition.

The funding ban wouldn’t affect schools that already have implemented Common Core standards, said Andover Republican Sen. Ty Masterson. He said he believes a majority of the Senate supports blocking implementation of the standards.

“There is a general resistance to the federal government imposing a curriculum on our Kansas schools,” he said.

But halting implementation now raises huge questions for school districts that are moving toward the standards, said Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

“This just kind of leaves districts kind of adrift as to what they’re actually supposed to be doing, to say nothing of the state board,” he said.

Tallman said the move could jeopardize a waiver approved by the U.S. Department of Education last year that exempted Kansas from the No Child Left Behind act and gave the state more flexibility in school standards.

With Common Core blocked, districts may have no choice but to return to older standards, Tallman said.

“For schools, you’re going to have to go back into a system that I think everyone believed we ought to be moving away from,” he said.

Reach Brent Wistrom at 785-296-3006 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com.

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