A joint House-Senate legislative committee on education got an earful on failing K-12 schools in Missouri's urban areas.
The committee initially met Wednesday to hear a progress report on replacing Common Core State Standards with standards drafted by Missouri-based education work groups. Those work groups were created by the passage last year of a bill scrapping Common Core in Missouri.
The measure's supporter cited the need for local control over Missouri's learning standards, as opposed to one-size-fits-all standards handed down from Washington, D.C. Opponents argued unsuccessfully that Common Core would enable students in Missouri to be on par with students in California, New York and elsewhere.
No testimony was presented at the Wednesday hearing. But Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, made it clear that she believes the focus is in the wrong place. She told the joint committee that changing Missouri's standards won't necessarily help inner-city kids improve their grades.
"I think it (should) be more hands-on, in terms of how much more money are we going to put in tutoring and things of that sort," Nasheed said. "What's going to be our standards for teaching, the quality teachers that are coming (into) the schools?"
Nasheed says it's more important to educate kids in low-income urban schools, and rural schools, too, than to figure out how to structure some new committee standards.
"We can talk studying standards all day long, and (say) 'let’s create some new standards,' (but) we are in a state of emergency right now," Nasheed said. "You have children that are graduating ... not knowing how to read on a 3rd-grade level; they're going straight into remedial courses after graduating out of high school."
The work groups have until Oct. 1 to submit their revised standards to the joint committee on education. After that, there will be a three-month public comment period from November through January 2016. Pending approval by the State Board of Education, probably in early spring, the new standards will take effect in time for the 2016-17 school year.
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