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Missouri Dumps Common Core

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Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon
Credit: Bernard Pollack, (cropped),, CC BY 2.0

by Michael Ramey,

On Monday Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed into law House Bill 1490, which repealed and replaced key sections of Missouri law relating to elementary and secondary education standards, including the Common Core. On a day when Nixon nearly set a record for vetoing bills, one of the few that he signed was a tremendous victory for parental rights: HB 1490 calls for the adoption of new state academic standards, rejecting the Common Core that Nixon brought to Missouri in the first place.

According to the Common Core website, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“the Department”) adopted the standards on June 15, 2010, to be fully implemented throughout the state in the coming 2014 — 15 school year. As governor, Nixon exercised authority over the Department at the time. But the public outcry against the standards has been great, and the legislature has responded.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, or Common Core, is a national set of academic standards established by private corporations and state executive trade unions and backed by federal dollars, in violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers. Significantly, very few professional educators were part of developing the standards, and the ones who were involved refused to sign off on the final product.

HB 1490, which supported, does more than simply reverse the decision to adopt this program, however. It also outlines a whole new procedure for adopting academic standards in the future, including many new safeguards to prevent another federal takeover.

The Common Core was adopted by the Department during the summer break between school years, without any legislative oversight, review, or public input. Education, which is traditionally and constitutionally a role of the states and not the federal government, was handed over to the latter without any say from the people.

That will not happen again under HB 1490, which requires that any academic standards revision must go through work groups assigned by the legislature. These work groups, to be comprised of education professionals and parents of children in the grade levels to which the standards will apply, will be selected by a wide range of persons. The governor, lieutenant governor, commissioner for higher education, president pro tempore of the senate, speaker of the Missouri House, statewide association of Missouri school boards, and the state board of education are among those tapped by the bill to each name members to the groups. (Read the whole list in section A(3) here.)

In addition, the law states that whenever standards are developed or modified a minimum of three public hearings will be held, giving parents and other concerned citizens a voice before any changes are made. And it prohibits the Department “from mandating the curriculum, textbooks, or other instructional materials to be used in public schools.” Such decisions are left to the local school boards, though they will of course be chosen to meet the academic standards set by the state.

Common Core, with its requirement that material taught in addition to the guidelines must not exceed 15% of all material studied, greatly restricted any discretion on the part of state or local officials in correcting or supplementing the standards, regardless of what would prove best for students. The new law includes a provision that “local school districts and charter schools may adopt their own education standards, in addition to those already adopted by the state,” as long as they don’t create a direct conflict with the state standards. There is no limit by percentage, which allows for more local control.

Each of these safeguards will prevent the kind of heavy-handed power grabbing that led to the Common Core being adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia in the first place.

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© 2014

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