Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: Education too important to be used in legislators' tug-of-war

  • One of the best things about the new standards is the way children are encouraged to learn.
    • email print
  • In some states, education is a sacred cow. In Kansas, the legislature has a taste for hamburgers.
    Just a few years after joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the Common Core standards in its public schools, the State Legislature is considering stopping the implementation of those standards.
    Of course, in the past three years, many Kansas school districts have begun implementation of the new teaching styles to prepare for the implementation of the new standards. But when you are in a state so red that the Democrats are irrelevant and the Republicans are forced to criticize “liberal Republicans,” you can’t be too surprised that the state legislature would balk at these fancy schmancy rules.
    The legislature couldn’t make a separate bill to stop the implementation of Common Core standards work this spring. So they have included a ban on federal funds for districts that haven’t already begun the transition in the budget bill.
    State Senator Ty Masterson lives in Andover – a district that is having success with the newly implemented Common Core instruction methods.
    “There is a general resistance to the federal government imposing a curriculum on our Kansas schools,” he said.
    Forgive me for saying so, but as a “reformed Republican” one of the problems I had with the party is that most of what they believe is “general” and most of what they do is “resist.”
    I know the definition of conservative is to maintain social traditions and institutions, but when that maintenance plan is at the expense of improvement, it is no longer conservative, it is wrong.
    Senator Masterson categorizes the Common Core as an imposition of curriculum by the federal government on Kansas children. That will redden the hackles of every red-blooded conservative.
    But the only problem with that statement is that he went to the truth and took a right turn.
    The Common Core standards were developed by the states. Only Texas – of course – Virginia, Minnesota, Nebraska and Alaska have refused to implement Common Core standards.
    These standards took the work states had done separately and brought them together under one umbrella. The Common Core standards only apply to Math and English Language Arts. The end result of Common Core standardization is that a student in Maine can know how they directly compare to a student in New Mexico.
    When every state has different standards by which students are measured, that is impossible. Common Core allows teachers and administrators to accurately determine how their programs are working and determine the best course of action for their districts.
    Page 2 of 2 - One of the best things about the new standards is the way children are encouraged to learn. Memorization is still important, but only so far as it is necessary to help a student use those facts in real world applications.
    In math classes instead of regurgitating facts and figures, students gather their own data and apply the facts they have learned to truly solve problems.
    It is a move away from forcing students to momentarily memorize material for a test to encouraging them to learn the information and know how to use it in everyday life.
    It’s a great idea.
    But the money to support it comes from the federal government so of course Kansas legislators are trying to opt out. This state’s government is so woefully reactive.
    Common Core is good for schools and students. Having a national standard helps us measure success and correct problems.
    When will our legislators realize that education is too important to use as a rope in their political tug-of-war.
    We need to stop looking at the world as black and white and realize that not everything supported by the federal government is a bad idea.
     
    Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com

        calendar