Common Core Standards in Kansas – It’s Complicated

Formally adopted October 12, 2010, Kansas was set on full implementation by the 2013-2014 school year. However, much like almost every other state in America, 2014 brought the debate to fever pitch. Even with fighters on both sides trying to keep in and repeal it, Kansas has managed to hold on to its iteration of Common Core.

Four Years Later

It’s a story similar across the nation. Many states adopted the standards in 2010 only to find a statewide backlash nearly a half decade after the fact. During this time, schools, teachers and students have invested countless hours and resources into transforming the Kansas school system into one that aligns better with the Common Core. During this developmental phase, almost all critics were silent. Then, in February 2014, Topeka held a Common Core debate at the Statehouse where there were so many speakers, each person was limited to only 90 seconds of talk time.

Opponents felt the state could do much better than any federally supported Core. They also argued the state was not in control of the Core’s implementation. However, the teachers and educators involved in the process were quick to point out that each school district did, in fact, control its own curriculum. Everything being taught at that time had been developed by the local schools themselves.

Those against it then argued the curriculum just wasn’t rigorous enough. The educators disagreed. After having taught at the Common Core level for a few years at this point, they verified that everything taught had real world applications and truly tested the mental capabilities of the students.

2015 Defeat

Only one year later, another bill tried to make its way through that would repeal Common Core altogether. Written by Joseph Scapa, it not only made mention of English and math, the two subjects covered with the Core, it made mention of other subjects as well. This caused dismay among many educators that then became worried that passing the bill would eliminate standards across the board, including history and science. To combat this, other representatives tried tacking on amendments that would create a slow phasing out of the core standards as opposed to an immediate repeal.

In the end, Kansas voted no. The vast majority felt that if the bill passed, it would only plunge the newly emerged curriculum into a state of chaos. Interestingly enough, a lot of the current debate stems around literature. With The Bluest Eye and Dreaming in Cuban on the reading list, one written by a Nobel Prize winner, some political figures see it as too hard for high school students to handle, citing sexual scenes as the problem. In response, high school students have been trying to share their books with the befuddled politicians, hoping that if they talk about it openly, it won’t be so weird for the adults anymore.