By Eli Yokley
Globe Staff Writer
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly have proposed legislation that could limit or bar the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing Common Core State Standards in the state.
The Missouri Republican Party’s official opposition to the plan began last June, when at their convention the delegates passed a resolution opposing Common Core Standards.
State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Joplin, said while he sees education as a priority of state government, he does not want to accept some national standards.
“The education of our children is a priority of mine. Ensuring that we are truly educating them is the responsibility of our local school boards. Local control is important to me,” Davis said last week.
The issue came up again last month while the House of Representatives was debating its fiscal year 2014 budget. State Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, offered an amendment that would ban the state from spending any money to implement Common Core standards.
Bahr said he opposed the program because he is concerned about the cost of its implementation, accessibility for rural districts to be able to participate in online tests, and a general desire to protect state sovereignty from the federal government.
“We don’t have the control over standards or the nature of the assessment in our state,” he said, adding that he is concerned that more liberal national and international groups might gain influence over Missouri education.
“The people who work in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.N. (United Nations) are going to tend to be more liberal, so I think it’s fair to ask what kind of liberal materials could be forced on our kids,” he said last week.
Despite broad opposition from the GOP, the standards have received support from most local school districts, including the St. Charles School District in Bahr’s district, and many school officials in Southwest Missouri, including Joplin, Webb City, Neosho and Carthage.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which is lobbying the Legislature against limits on the program, called Common Core standards “uniform learning goals” that would assist a student if he or she moves to a different school district, or even a different state.
Chris Nicastro, commissioner of education, said the goals will help students identify the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed when they graduate, regardless of their career path.
In addition to his budget amendment, Bahr has also filed legislation that would put a complete ban on implementing Common Core Standards. That legislation has passed out of the Downsizing State Government Committee, and is currently in the House Rules Committee. His bill has been sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones, State Rep. Bill Lant, R-Neosho, and a dozen other lawmakers.
In the Senate, Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis, filed legislation that would require the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct public hearings in all eight of the state’s congressional districts before implementing the program.