The online hub of the Missouri School Administrators Coalition.

Bulletin #13: Common Core Supporters Rally to Capitol

Last week, the Missouri Senate Education Committee continued to hear testimony surrounding the issue of Common Core. This week, proponents of the Common Core received one hour dedicated to public testimony on two bills (SB 514 & SB 798) that would repeal the Common Core State Standards in Missouri.

In addition to those testifying, over one hundred administrators and other educators attended the hearing to show support for high academic standards in the state of Missouri. We would like to thank all of those that made the trip to Jefferson City, it was truly an impressive showing.

Despite this outpouring of support for high standards, the movement to repeal the Common Core has a lot of momentum in the General Assembly. The House will likely take up HB 1490 for a vote as soon as this week. Though not likely this week, the Senate Education Committee could vote on a bill as soon as Wednesday.

As you have been doing, administrators should stay in contact with your legislators regarding this important issue.

  • Missouri administrators support high standards. The high standards of the Common Core were developed out of pressure from politicians, business, and higher education to increase rigor in public education so that students graduate college and career ready. Just as they are getting ready to take effect, the same politicians that urged the increase in rigor are debating whether to pull the rug out from under Missouri educators.
  • Schools are in the cross fire between the Legislature and DESE. Much of the focus from those opposed to the Common Core has been focused on the process by which the standards were created and how they were adopted in Missouri. This has caused severe animosity from the Legislature towards DESE and the State Board of Education. Missouri schools and districts should not be penalized for the inability of DESE & the Missouri Legislature to get along.
  • Curriculum is still a local decision. The Missouri Learning Standards are simply standards by which schools and students will be evaluated by the state of Missouri. School districts still control the curriculum that teachers utilize in the classroom.
  • Abandoning the nearly four years of work, time, and money is irresponsible and expensive. Missouri school districts and educators have dedicated millions of dollars and thousands of hours to developing and implementing curriculum that support the Common Core and would need to start that process all over again if Missouri were to take a different direction.
  • Common Core benefits highly mobile students. These standards allow  students to more smoothly transition from one school or district to another. Schools will be better equipped and assured of where a student is in their educational career and have more time to focus on meeting the needs of that student rather than spending excess time considering placement.
  • Common Core raises the rigor for all states. Traditionally, Missouri has been penalized in national comparisons because of our rigorous standards while other states may have appeared to be performing better on their standards. Educators and policymakers can have an accurate comparison for how Missouri compares to other states in performance.

House Committee Will Take Up Senate Transfer Bill Tuesday

The Missouri House will begin their work on SB 493 this week. If you recall, SB 493, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R – Warrensburg), is the bill that the Senate passed earlier during the legislative session in order to address the student transfer law that has wreaked havoc on the St. Louis region for the past year.

In addressing the transfer law itself, the Senate also included several other provisions that will have a negative impact on public education in the state of Missouri. Included in the bill were vouchers for students to attend non-sectarian private schools, charter school expansion, and most detrimental, the creation of three, different accreditation systems for public, private, and charter schools.

Under SB 493, private schools would be accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation, charter schools would be accredited based on the standards that their own sponsor creates for them, while public schools would be held to the rigorous standards of the Missouri School Improvement Program.

Click here for a complete summary of the SB 493 that we prepared for administrators earlier in the session.

SAC is opposed to SB 493 in its current form for the following reasons…

  • SB 493 creates three starkly different accreditation systems for schools in Missouri. Charter schools would be accredited based solely upon a system created by their own sponsor. In addition to cherry-picking the best students, private schools would be accredited by an entity known as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation. Meanwhile, public schools would continue to be accredited utilizing MSIP5.
  • SB 493 does nothing to address the challenges being faced in school districts with high poverty and instead takes students out of their community schools and destroys already struggling communities. As the bill moves to the House of Representatives, more effort needs to be focused on support and intervention from the state. SAC believes that HB 2037, sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R – Blue Springs) provides the framework for this support and intervention. HB 2037 has 73 co-sponsors.
  • SB 493 promotes a system that "hides" students with difficulty learning in the state's accreditation system or in unaccountable private schools by allowing private schools to cherry pick students or by transferring students out of their communities to affluent schools or districts.
  • SB 493 creates a system of "high stakes" testing with the requirement that "Provisional" and "Unaccredited" districts retain any student in 5th or 8th grade if the student fails to score proficient or advanced on MAP tests. This provision ensures that once a district is forced to retain students in specific grade levels that are utilized to determine a district's APR score, the district will never recover.
  • The state will be on the hook to fund a number of provisions of SB 493 that will cost millions while the foundation formula is currently underfunded by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year. With the passage of SB 493, the state would be expected to pay for the following...
    • When districts are forced to retain students, it will mean that those students will continue to be counted in the districts weighted average daily attendance for an additional year.
    • SB 493 sets up a "Transfer Fund" that will pay at least 10% of the tuition for students to transfer from one district to another if the district that the student chooses to attend has a higher tuition rate than the district the student resides.
    • SB 493 allows for school districts to extend class time beyond current restrictions for any school building that is "Provisional" and "Unaccredited" and more than 75% of the student body is eligible for free and reduced lunch. A fund is created for the state to reimburse districts that choose to do this.
    • SB 493 requires districts to offer free tutoring services to students when the district becomes "Provisional" or "Unaccredited" that would be paid for out of a state fund. Currently this fund is limited to donations, but would become a place that many legislators will attempt to direct state money through the budget process.
    • SB 493 also creates funds to pay for Regional Education Authorities that will function as a clearinghouse and oversee the transfer process.

Bill to Allow Home School Students
Participate with Local District Athletics Passes Committee

HB 1347 “Activity Participation By Home School Students” was voted out of the House Education Committee last week. This bill can be placed on the House Calendar and debated on the floor at any time between now and the close of the session. SAC is opposed to HB 1347. If the bill does begin to move any further through the process, school administrators need to be aware that the bill will do the following:

  • Home school students have different rules to follow than students in MSHSAA member schools. The bill establishes two separate standards on eligibility. Member school students must attend 80% of available classes and pass 3.0 units, where home school students just have to pass classes (no requirement on number) and be making progress as determined by the home school instructor.
  • School attendance rules would differ for home-schooled students compared to students attending MSHSAA member schools. Schools would have no way of confirming a student has been in attendance the day of a contest, or know when a student began his or her high school curriculum and career.
  • HB 1347 creates a system where recruiting would run rampant. This bill will provide a path and encourage student movement involving recruiting and undue influence and would allow a student to transfer schools without ability to verify continued residency.
  • HB 1347 creates additional burdens on schools to ensure home school students are creditable citizens under the current by-laws or school policies.
  • HB 1347 diminishes the local control member schools currently have in MSHSAA. The bill would affect several rules put in place by member schools. It removes the Bona Fide Student requirement; when schools have expressed they want their students, attending their school, to represent their school.