A bill to end the use of Common Core education standards in Kansas was defeated during a House floor vote after passing the state’s House Education Committee.
House Bill 2292 would have replaced Common Core with new, non-federal standards that would have been implemented by the Kansas State Board of Education by July 1, 2017. HB 2292 would have rescinded any existing agreements and prohibited any future ones made with the federal government requiring the use of Common Core, and it included provisions to protect student privacy and safeguard against data mining.
The House rejected the bill in a 78–44 vote.
‘No Idea What This Was’
Prior to the floor vote, HB 2292 was subjected to severe scrutiny and hours of debate.
Duke Pesta, academic director of the Freedom Project Academy, gave a talk to the Kansas Education Committee prior to its vote, at the request of state Rep. Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth), an anti-Common Core activist in Kansas.
“The simple, two-hour talk was laid out carefully from the perspective of Arne Duncan, David Coleman, and Bill Gates—the former U.S. secretary of education, the lead architect of Common Core, and the financier-in-chief for the standards, respectively,” said Pesta.
“[The talk] presented the problems with Common Core through the words of the people who created it,” Pesta said. “It had quite an impact on many of the committee members, generating enough votes to move the bill out of committee after numerous failed attempts. All of the Republicans present, including those who had been voting with the Democrats, changed their votes on the spot.”
Outside Groups Succeeded
Pesta says pressure from outside groups was enough to influence lawmakers to vote against HB 2292.
“Corporations and businesses are promising money and power,” Pesta said. “However, more than that, they are threatening the lawmakers that if you don’t do this, we won’t support you.”
State Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego), a member of the Education Committee, agrees outside players swayed the vote.
“Because we didn’t run it on the floor quickly, the opponents obviously had time to really chew on the ear of all of those folks and threaten them and so forth,” Highland said.
“You know how they are, particularly the teachers unions,” Highland said. “They’re not as powerful as they used to be, but they still make a lot of noise. Because of all their staff in the [Kansas National Education Association] and the school board and association of superintendents, they all have staff, and they put out messages every day.”
Shifting to Local Level
Highland says those who want to do away with Common Core need to refocus the discussion at the local level.
“What we will be doing this year, this summer and fall, is to reframe the discussion and say, ‘If you really want this changed, because of our Constitution and our laws in our state, you have to go to the state school board,'” Highland said.
Highland says parents should talk to their local school boards because they, according to state law, control the curriculum at the local level.
Andrea Dillon ([email protected]) writes from Holly Springs, North Carolina.
Dr. Duke Pesta, “Federal Co-Opting of State Education,” Testimony, Kansas House Education Committee, March 3, 2016: https://heartland.org/policy-documents/federal-co-opting-state-education