Bill to eliminate Common Core and Science Standards unlikely to see a vote

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJanuary 22, 2014 

State Rep. Derrick Graham, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he doesn't intend to call for a vote a bill that would eliminate the Common Core national education standards and the Next Generation Science Standards in Kentucky.

House Bill 215 was introduced last week by state Rep. Thomas Kerr, R-Taylor Mill, and was co-signed by several House Republicans, including Stan Lee, R-Lexington.

Gov. Steve Beshear decided in 2013 to implement the science standards even though a legislative review subcommittee rejected them. Endorsed by several science groups and approved by the Kentucky Board of Education twice, the science standards have established the concepts and skills that Kentucky students would be expected to master in grades K-12. They were drafted cooperatively by Kentucky and 25 other states.

In 2010, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core standards, and 40 states followed. The Common Core content standards in math and English language arts — designed to better prepare students for college — were mandated by Senate Bill 1, which became law in 2009.

House Bill 215 would prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education from implementing the English language arts and mathematics academic content standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and the science academic content standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative.

The legislation would require the state education board to recommend new content standards to school districts and schools after consulting the Council on Postsecondary Education, and would require public involvement in developing standards.

Kerr and Lee didn't return telephone calls Wednesday. Last year, two conservative groups — Take Back Kentucky and Kentuckians Against Common Core Standards — circulated online alerts urging Kentuckians to contact state legislators to voice opposition. House Bill 215 has been referred to the House Education Committee for an initial hearing.

With residents pushing for the standards, and "with the education community behind it ... and the governor also being supportive of it, I don't see the need for us to take up the issue," Graham said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's settled."

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said that bills like HB215 are popping up across the nation., He said it is "more of a political issue than an education issue." Already, districts choose and local boards of education approve the curriculum their teachers use, Holliday said. He added that local school boards have the authority to go beyond the standards, which represent the minimum of what students should know and be able to do.

The science standards are expected to be implemented by this fall. The Herald-Leader previously reported that opponents, including some residents and the Family Foundation of Kentucky, have attacked the science standards on various grounds.

Some detractors argue that the standards treat evolution as fact rather than theory. Others claim that the guidelines overemphasize global climate issues while ignoring other areas of science.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears

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