JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A good first step.
That’s how Common Core opponents are describing a new bill that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law on Monday that keeps the nationalized learning standards in place, while establishing work groups of educators and parents that will examine ways the standards can be improved for the 2016-17 school year.
The work groups will make their recommendations late next year, and three public hearings will be held before the state board of education sets the final standards.
Board members are appointed by the governor, which means their responsiveness to the public’s concerns is minimal.
The bottom line is that Missouri officials will probably tweak the Common Core standards a little – as Indiana officials have – but they probably won’t make any wholesale alterations.
“It’s not a game-changer for us,” Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman told ColumbiaTribune.com.
Still, the new law does contain a few modest victories for Common Core critics.
TruthInAmericanEducation.com reports the law expressly prohibits state education officials “from mandating the curriculum, textbooks, or other instructional materials to be used in public schools.”
The law also makes clear that districts shall not be required to use the “exemplar texts” listed in Appendix B of the Common Core standards. Some of those recommended readings have come under intense criticism for containing sexually explicit material and/or offensive language.
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Those are nice assurances, but as Core critics have long pointed out, classroom instruction will be heavily influenced by the material that’s covered on the state standardized tests.
TruthInAmericanEducation.com notes Missouri’s state board of education will develop new assessments after it considers the work groups’ recommended changes.
Core opponents must remain involved in this process to ensure state officials don’t do an end run around all of those “local control” assurances.
To that end, leaders of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core have issued a press release thanking Gov. Nixon and the Legislature for this “important step forward,” and vowing to keep working “in the next (legislative) session to further educational excellence for Missouri students.”