The House Education Committee vote on HB 2292 to repeal Common Core was last Friday, March 20th. The bill did not pass out of the committee. This important topic affects more than 470,000 Kansas children and families, has a direct impact on the education budget (50% of Kansas’ overall budget), and has been a consistent issue that legislators (including the Governor) admit to hearing about often from “the people.” Tragically, your elected officials are not acting on this issue based on the VERY CLEAR message they hear from you.
Prior to Friday’s vote, proponents of HB 2292 were given exactly 45 minutes during one scheduled hearing day—45 minutes to discuss the many complexities and concerns about Common Core. The liquor licensing bill received 3 days of hearings. No questions were allowed at the hearing for HB 2292. No informational meetings were offered, as suggested by other committee chairs. That’s the best that could be done for Kansas kids??! Here’s a summary of the meeting on Friday the 20th, a meeting that was for the purpose of “discussion and possible action on HB 2292”:
The bill was reintroduced and a reviser delivered a brief summary of the bill. Without ANY discussion of HB 2292, Amanda Grosserode (R)-Lenexa, introduced an 11th hour “substitute” bill. Understand that Rep. Grosserode, who herself commented on her lengthy tenure on this committee, has never proactively put forth a bill to be fully vetted by the public and the legislature. This bill was only introduced in opposition to other proposed legislation. And, it was not even made known to the public until being introduced at this meeting. In fact, the words “Common Core” were not even in her substitute! This substitute did not even call for new standards until 2017, and even then, as pointed out by committee members, “This substitute just maintains the status quo. Why adopt it?” Ultimately, the vote on this distraction did not pass.
Here are some of Rep. Grosserode’s comments made at the meeting (our comments are in italics):
• Difficult topic and issue; have current concerns about the standards
• The “way” we have gone about this (referring to HB2292) has failed to move the needle at all
• She met with the revisors the day prior to this meeting to draft her proposed substitute bill
• Her substitute:
o Recognizes the current system in play
o New standards would be in place in 2017 (Two more years of kids under Common Core standards and the aligned curriculums and assessments. That’s her best proposal?)
o The legislature must adopt/approve the new standards (This is the only part of her proposal that we agree with. It is in HB2292. It’s interesting that Rep. Grosserode’s prior claim of this aspect being “unconstitutional,” and being subsequently rebutted by Sec. Kobach, became a part of her proposal.)
o The substitute calls for reverting to 2010 standards in 2017 if the legislature does not adopt/approve the new standards developed through the normal process. (Since the proposed substitute bill does not explicitly state that Common Core and all its alignments must be removed from Kansas, then what prevents the new standards to be approved in 2017 from being Common Core standards with another name on them? This is what has happened in other states that passed legislation. HB2292 was written to be constitutionally sound and ensure Common Core is truly gone.)
o Must take into account the Rose standards.
o There are some good things in the Common Core standards.
Comments by Rep. Bradford in support of the proposed substitute include:
• Plan to use the existing system to get rid of Common Core
• We will have “new Kansas standards” (How the existing system –under which Common Core was adopted– is supposed to remove Common Core and ensure new standards is not understood.)
• The “perfect” bill will only die in committee
• This substitute is a bill that gets the job done and gets bi-partisan support to get it out of committee
Ultimately the vote on this distraction did not pass.
Understand that while no specifics were ever offered, either at this hearing or in the two months this bill had been made public, assertions are lobbed out there to, in our opinion, cause confusion and inaction. This is a common tactic used by people to take down the opposition when they don’t want to or can’t openly discuss an issue.
These types of assertions include (and were heard at the meeting):
“The committee hasn’t heard from those affected, specifically the students.” (Again all your calls, emails and visits haven’t counted?)
“The bill won’t pass because of its flaws.”
“I don’t know too many that are more conservative than I, but I must deal with other legislators.”
“There’s a wide range of disagreement on HB2292.”
“Am going to pass ‘something’ out of committee.” (It’s easier to vote for “something” that does nothing.)
Additional comments made at the meeting:
“Coordination between the state school board members and the legislature will get Common Core gone.” (Great, agreement between the KS school board members who are staunchly pro-Common Core and a legislature that won’t take on Common Core. How exactly does that remove Common Core?)
“Want KS kids to know what kids from other states do.”
“Are we not supposed to teach kids to count to 100?”
“One size doesn’t fit all. Common Core meets that challenge. It differentiates. Teachers and schools get to decide what to do.”
“Common Core is the first time teachers have been able to teach critical thinking.”
“Kansas College and Career Ready Standards IS Kansas standards, not Common Core.”
Next, John Bradford (R)-Lansing presented two different amendments, both of which did not pass and had little to do with actually repealing Common Core or protecting our kids. After about an hour and a half, time which could have been spent discussing Common Core’s predatory nature and the merits and questions regarding HB2292, there was an abrupt call to vote on the bill (HB 2292). Someone “seconded” the motion just nanoseconds later. The obviously orchestrated plan to kill our bill– before it could be duly considered– continued. Before any real discussion, the vote was allowed to proceed. HB 2292 did not pass. The vote was 10-7 (with one abstaining).
Here’s how they voted:
J Barker (R) (Abilene) –no
T Barton (R) (Leavenworth)-yes
S Boldra (R) (Hays) –no
J Bradford (R) (Lansing) – yes
C Bridges (R) (Wichita) – no
R Bruchman (R) (Leawood) – no
D Dierks (R) (Salina) – no
W Dove (R) (Bonner Springs) – yes
J Ewy (R) (Jetmore) – no
A Grosserode (R) (Lenexa) – yes
D Hedke (R) (Wichita) – yes
J Lunn (R) (Overland Park) -yes
N Lusk (D) (Overland Park) – no
C Macheers (R) (Shawnee) – yes
M Rhoades (R) (Newton) – abstained
C Smith (R) (Pittsburg) – no
E Trimmer (R) (Winfield) – no
V Winn (D) (Kansas City) – no
Chair- Highland (R) (Wamego) – (did not vote)
Regarding the “yes” votes for HB 2292 by two members of this committee, Amanda Grosserode and John Bradford, both were approached repeatedly by this board (early and often) to seek their support for HB 2292 and to iron out any language issues, so as to secure a viable Common Core repeal bill this session to protect Kansas kids. They refused to offer any honest, substantive critiques; instead they listened to detractors who spewed false claims like, “It isn’t constitutional,” and “It will result in a lawsuit by the school board,” or “It will have a $100M fiscal note” – sensational stuff. Politics. It was, from January on: “We don’t have the votes in the house to pass this,” or “We don’t have the votes to pass this out of committee.” Our efforts to meet with them, hear their concerns, and work to favorably pass HB2292 out of committee were not met by them. Instead, they worked to not support HB2292 and offered a LAST MINUTE bill and amendments, and urged fellow committee members to join in support of these changes, to kill HB2292. They did vote “yes” to pass HB2292 out of committee, but considering everything they did prior to prevent its favorable reception and success, it’s difficult to think that it was truly a vote in favor, but rather a “cover” vote.