Most parents with school-aged children can tell you why they chose their home. A preference for a particular public school district is usually involved.
School boards, district staff as decision-makers, the socio-economics of neighborhoods, and parental and community involvement all hold great sway over what occurs inside classrooms. Yet this truth about American public education continues to be degraded and denied by some members of the GOP, with the most recent example coming from Kansas.
The Republican state committee of Kansas passed a resolution this month asking the state to back away from implementing a set of standards, goals for education that are being adopted nationally. The GOP committee opposes the Common Core standards, pitching them as a type of power grab by the federal government for the minds of schoolchildren. Similar fear-mongering about the federal government’s impact in education is used to belittle other education reforms and to demean teacher’s unions.
Such persistent and unsubstantiated claims by some members of the GOP need to be silenced. There is only one way to attack this type of ignorance: with education. Wisely, that is the approach being taken in Kansas.
Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker will send a letter to GOP leadership this week to reiterate the lesson. And an education campaign is beginning for the public.
The move toward a set of standards for the goals of public education began not with the federal government, but with state educators, more than a decade ago. They recognized that having a hodgepodge of differing standards state-to-state was not sufficiently preparing the future workforce. Educators wanted to know how children in their state compared with others in achievement and to learn from states where students were excelling. Through years of collaboration, what are now termed the Common Core standards for reading and math were agreed upon.
Nationally, all but a handful of state education boards adopted the measures. Kansas did so in 2010. Then districts began embracing the standards, planning and training teachers because the way the standards are reached is a local decision.
One way to keep outrageous interpretations of benign ideas alive is to preach long and loud, confusing people so they can’t see through the verbal farce. Education is the answer. And it has begun in Kansas.