Committee approves anti-Common Core bill

After listening to a national anti-Common Core speaker for more than an hour, the House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit the use of Common Core in Kansas.

Opponents of the measure say it would go much further, prohibiting advanced placement, international baccalaureate courses and more.

As approved, last year’s anti-Common Core House Bill 2292 now contains the provisions of this year’s anti-Common Core HB 2676.

According to the Fiscal Note for HB 2676, the bill would prohibit Common Core, anything related to Common Core, and would require new standards for math and language arts and new assessments. The Kansas State Department of Education has estimated the development of the new standards would take two years and cost $9 million.

In addition, the Fiscal Note says that unless the state could continue to use the current state assessments during the two years that new ones were being developed, the state could lose $4.8 million in federal funds and possibly more.

The Education Committee approved the move after hearing from Dr. Duke Pesta, an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The agenda of the committee meeting said that it would be an informational briefing on “The History of Education.”

Pesta has traveled the country denouncing Common Core. On Wednesday, he also criticized the Affordable Care Act, the federal government, and said the public school system in the United States was modeled after the “totalitarian Prussian system.”

After his talk, Chairman Ron Highland, R-Wamego, brought up the anti-Common Core legislation. Democrats complained there were no opponents allowed to testify to counter Pesta. Highland said the testimony was provided last year during debate on a similar measure. KASB testified against that bill. Here is a link to that testimony.

The bill was recommended for approval on a voice vote. Two Republicans on the committee were replaced for the day and their substitutes were House Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, and House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg.

Democrats on the committee opposed the bill as did Rep. Sue Boldra, R-Hays, who is a teacher.

February 18, 2016