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Fri May 16, 2014
Missouri Gives Educators Two Years To Make Common Core Decision
Legislation awaiting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's signature gives state educators two years to reaffirm their support for the Common Core or dump the education standards in favor of state-specific alternatives.
Lawmakers agreed to the compromise last week after debating the contentious nationally-crafted student expectations for most of the session.
If the bill becomes law, educator work groups will spend the next two years writing new learning goals for math and English language arts.
"That's where we ended up after starting with a number of bills that would have banned Common Core outright," says Jay Atkins, a lobbyist for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.
Across the country, business groups have supported the new education standards, which were rolled out four years ago to curb the number of graduates in need of remediation before going to college or entering the workforce. In total, 44 states have agreed to use the Common Core.
But as schools have introduced the standards, parents across the country have pushed back. They say the Common Core has made their kids' homework difficult to understand, and they don't like that the standards have become linked with the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative.
In Missouri, opponents also have criticized the process the State Board used in 2010 to adopt the standards as too secretive.
"In our process now, we will have a lot of transparency," says parent Anne Gassel, co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. "There will be public hearings. The comments submitted will be part of the public transcript. This is a great step forward in transparency."
Missouri teachers will continue using the Common Core expectations until the work groups can make a recommendation. It's expected the new standards will look a lot like the ones they replace.
The state will continue with a plan to administer a Common Core-aligned test in the spring. Neighboring Kansas also is using the Common Core in schools but is developing its own exam to assess how well kids are adjusting to the new material.