LAWRENCE— A top Kansas educator said she will be sending a "friendly" letter to the state Republican Party this week to correct what she and other education leaders believe is misinformation about the Common Core standards for reading and math.
The letter from Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker will be in response to a resolution adopted by the Kansas GOP state committee last weekend calling for the state to withdraw from the standards, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
"We saw the resolution about education in Kansas," DeBacker said after Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting. "We'll try to clear up some of the myths and some of the false information. But really it will be to say, 'Let's sit down and talk about this.'"
The standards, adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia, are intended to raise academic expectations so students will be prepared for either college or the workforce by the time they graduate from high school.
The Republican resolution says Common Core — initiated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — "implicates the states in an unconstitutional and illegal transfer of power to the federal government and private interests."
It also says the standards were adopted in Kansas without meaningful input from the state's parents, teachers and other taxpayers, will impose burdensome new testing requirements and will require collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student data.
"That's absolutely not the case," DeBacker said.
The state board adopted the standards in 2010 after more than two years of public discussion, DeBacker said, including input from Kansas teachers. Also, students will be tested the same number of times as they are now, and there will be no more data collected about students than what the state collects already.
Kelly Arnold, state GOP chairman, said he wasn't familiar with all the details of the resolution. A number of state committee members proposed the resolution.
While DeBacker said she would send the letter on behalf of the Department of Education, board members — primarily Republicans, many of whom support the Common Core standards — said they did not want to get involved in a political battle with the state party.
"To me, it's a political thing. I'm part of the Republican Party," said board Vice Chairwoman Sally Cauble, of Liberal. "I'm kind of having trouble with how they even voted on this."
Deena Horst, a board member from Salina who is a former Republican legislator, agreed.
"I'm perfectly fine with the department addressing the misconceptions, and I just think they need to be addressed," Horst said. "I think politically, there's a division we all know about, and that's what this is."