At least one lawmaker who sponsored an anti-Common Core bill making its way through the Kansas Legislature said Friday that he won’t support doing away with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs.
“AP testing and IB programming in Wichita would not go away. I would not support that,” said Rep. Chuck Weber, R-Wichita.
“AP and IB as we know it in Wichita – that my kids have gone through, that East High is rightly proud of – I would not support doing away with that.”
Weber, whose district includes portions of north Wichita, Bel Aire and Butler County, was one of 30 sponsors of a measure that would repeal Common Core standards and compel school districts to develop new standards for reading, math and other subjects.
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Opponents say Substitute House Bill 2292, which passed out of the House Education Committee on Wednesday, could affect or possibly do away with AP classes and IB programs because it calls for all coursework and exams to be aligned with revised, non-Common Core Kansas standards.
Weber said critics – including the Kansas Association of School Boards and the Kansas National Education Association – are misinterpreting portions of the bill that they say would endanger programs such as AP and IB.
“AP and IB programs in Kansas are not going away,” he said Friday.
He said he supports repealing Common Core but that concerns over eliminating AP or IB programs is “a fabrication of certain special interest groups.”
The bill he sponsored “is an attempt to bring curriculum standards in Kansas schools under the direction of Kansans. Period,” Weber said.
In October 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the current math and English standards, also known as the Common Core or the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. In 2013 it passed new science guidelines, called the Next Generation Science Standards.
Both the Common Core and science standards were multistate efforts to develop common guidelines for what students should know and be able to do.
The newest proposal in Kansas marks the fourth consecutive year that critics of Common Core have tried to repeal the standards.
Opponents have said the standards aren’t appropriate for very young students, that they are expensive, that they focus too much on testing or that the federal government is conspiring to dumb down the American public through the Common Core.
The Kansas bill is awaiting a hearing by the full House, which could happen as early as next week.
Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said Weber’s comments illustrate the current confusion over the bill and its potential consequences.
“We would simply ask the supporters of the bill to explain: What is the purpose of the language which refers to those (AP and IB) provisions?” Tallman said. “If it’s not meant to affect them, why are they mentioned in the bill?
“The problem with this bill is, I don’t think we know what it does,” he said. “At minimum, the bill is not clear.”