Common Core Fight: Sen. Pat Roberts Proposes Bill to Keep Education Policy Local

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Learning Opportunities Created At the Local (LOCAL) Level Act, which would stop the federal government from forcing education standards on the states with programs like Common Core.

“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Senator Roberts said. “We need to get the federal government out of the classroom, and return community decisions back to where they belong - in the community.”

Roberts found two sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 the Department of Education violated, which states the government may not interfere or influence a state’s education. In order for a state to receive Race to the Top funds, they had to implement the Common Core standards. The funds are also tied to the national standardized tests Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SMARTER Balance) instead of the already established state tests. Roberts also found that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will issues certain waivers to states who adopt Common Core. Roberts stated:

Unfortunately, it is evident that certain waivers from onerous education requirements have been granted only to those states that agree to implement the White House’s preferred education policies. In fact, The New York Times has referred to the waiver process as "the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s." My bill ensures States retain their authority to determine the curriculum and standards that are best for their students.

In 2013, states turned against Common Core, including Kansas. There was an attempt to stop the standards in the House Education Committee in May, but it failed. In December, the state board of education withdrew from the SMARTER Balanced tests to form their own Common Core tests. Despite the change, the state is still Common Core. The rules say the states must abide by Common Core word for word. They are allowed to add 15% of their own content, but they cannot change the standards.

Grassroots groups, educators, and parents are still applying pressure to completely end Common Core in Kansas. Americans for Prosperity-Kansas held two events to educate the public on Common Core. Others wrote letters to the editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal and formed the group Kansans Against Common Core.


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