Missouri's Teacher of the Year defended the state's new education standards to a House panel Thursday, saying the Common Core standards would help prepare students for today's world.
A House education committee's hearing focused on legislation that would bar the state from implementing the new standards unless the Legislature passes a measure to adopt them. The Missouri State Board of Education voted to adopt the standards in 2010.
Jamie Manker, a social studies teacher at the suburban St. Louis Rockwood Summit High, dismissed the bill sponsor's concerns that the new standards would take decisions on curriculum away from local school boards.
"It doesn't tell me what to teach, what book or what history lesson," she said. "They help me to try to always keep in mind not what I want to teach, but what my students need to learn."
Missouri students are scheduled to take Common Core-aligned tests this fall. The new benchmarks for reading, writing and math replace a hodgepodge of educational goals that had varied greatly from state to state.
Sponsoring Rep. Kurt Bahr said the Legislature should have been consulted on implementing the standards, which most other states have adopted.
"If these new untested, unproven standards fail Missouri won't be the only one to suffer, the entire nation will suffer," said Bahr, R-St. Charles.
The debate has heated up in the House during the past few days. On Wednesday, an education funding panel appropriated $8 for "two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology."
That amendment, put forward by retired teacher and Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, was partly a joke, but also meant to make a point about paranoia surrounding the new standards.
One opponent of the Common Core standards said Bahr's bill wouldn't go far enough and would fail to stop the standards' implementation. Former Republican state Sen. Jane Cunningham said education officials could change the name of the standards or have them swept under the rug to get around the legislation.
The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee took no further action on Bahr's legislation, but the committee's chairman said it would vote on the bill next week.