Kentucky Republicans Launch New Attack On Common Core

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Republicans in Kentucky have declared the repeal of Common Core to be their top priority in the next legislative session and have introduced a bill to achieve just that.

Fittingly, the bill to repeal Common Core is Senate Bill 1, reflecting its status as the number one goal of Kentucky Republicans in their 13-point legislative agenda for 2016.

“We want to get back to controlling our standards,” Kentucky Senate President Robert Strivers said Wednesday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. To replace Common Core, the bill would create several panels of educators who would craft new standards with input from the public. Standards would be automatically reviewed every six years.

Mike Wilson, the bill’s chief sponsor, claimed that Common Core has produced a “quagmire of instructional compliance” for the state’s schools. He predicted that replacement standards would be fewer in number, and therefore easier to follow.

The bill will also cut down on the number of standardized tests administered each year.

The new push comes after Kentucky voters elected Republican Matt Bevin to be the state’s governor in November. Bevin declared his opposition to Common Core during the gubernatorial campaign.

Still, repealing Common Core isn’t a slam-dunk. Democrats hold a 50-46 advantage in the state House of Representatives and may be strong enough to block the bill, especially if some Republicans join them as has happened in other states where repeal efforts failed.

Furthermore, even if the bill passes, Kentucky may join several other states where the essence of Common Core has proven harder to replace than it seems. In both South Carolina and Indiana, for instance, activists have angrily complained that “replacement” standards crafted by professional educators have been Common Core with just a handful of cosmetic changes. Supporters of Common Core argue this simply reflects Common Core’s overall robustness, with teachers unable to replace it without substantially rolling back expectations.

Despite the Republican tilt of the state, the new attack on Common Core is still somewhat surprising. Kentucky was the very first state to adopt Common Core, back in 2010, and so the standards have been fully implemented there longer than in most states. For example, while many states administered Common Core-aligned standardized tests for the first time last year, Kentucky has been doing so since 2012. The new standards haven’t produced immediate gains in test scores, though, which has tested the patience of some former supporters.

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