Parents, students question Common Core standards

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 10:09 p.m. CDT; updated 7:44 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 24, 2013

COLUMBIA — Several mid-Missouri parents and students questioned the Common Core State Standards at a Missouri House education committee hearing Wednesday at MU.

"I was appalled about the longitudinal data required, the lack of teacher and community input and the loss of local control," said Laura Martin, a member of the school board for Camdenton R-III School District.

About 100 people attended the hearing at Reynolds Alumni Center, including Reps. Chris Kelly and Caleb Rowden, both of Columbia. No members of the Boone County delegation serve on the committee.

The Common Core State Standards, adopted by Missouri as well as 39 other states, were designed to make K-12 curricula consistent across the U.S. Missouri's adoption of the standards involves changes to the Missouri Assessment Program tests.

Several who spoke at the hearing said they were concerned that the standards were developed at a national level, without enough opportunity for parent and community input.

"We believe it is an illegal overreach by the U.S. Department of Education designed to federalize education," said Ron Swift, a Boonville resident.

Some students also testified at the open hearing. Natalie Sales, a Camdenton eighth-grader, lamented the change of curriculum in her math class, which she said is now taught by computer and focuses on process rather than correct answers.

"I am not an experiment in education," Natalie said. "I am not a science project. I am a human being.”

One person spoke in favor of Common Core. John Lannin, an associate professor at MU's College of Education, said the standards addressed a lack of consistency. He said math curricula saw a lot of duplication — the same concepts were taught over and over.

Other people at the House Interim Committee on Education hearing advocated for funding for early childhood education as a key to economic development. A few asked the committee to protect vocational and technical education in Missouri.

The hearing ended an 11-city listening tour for the committee during September and October. Rep. Lyle Rowland, vice chairman of the committee, said the Common Core standards were addressed at all of the hearings except one.

Next, the House committee will write up a report on the concerns voiced during the sessions. It will then review the report to identify priorities for the next legislative session.

"Hopefully, from all of this we'll have some legislation that will be drafted from our findings from across the state," Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, said.

Martin, a school psychologist, said she still had many unaddressed questions about the Common Core standards.

“Where is the data going?" she asked. "Who has access to it? Could parents opt out or have input on testing? Can teachers change it if it's not working? And No. 1, will it help our kids?"

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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