CARSON CITY — A group of Nevada Republicans are trying to make the state the latest to repeal Common Core education standards.
Assemblyman Brent Jones, the primary bill sponsor of AB 303, and presented the bill Wednesday before the Assembly Education Committee.
Jones said he takes issue with confusing education standards for K-12 students and is concerned with student privacy and certain forms of standardized testing. The freshman Republican said Nevada should adopt education standards used in the past by Massachusetts, and that the state should have the freedom to adopt its own programs.
“Once people actually understand what it is, they’re actually frustrated and upset with it,” he said during the hearing. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but a parent issue.”
The standards were initially developed by a number of education advocates and elected officials around the nation to create a basic set of reading, math and critical thinking standards that could be shared and adopted by schools around the country.
Although President Barack Obama has supported the standards and tied state adoption of the program to federal grant funding, the federal government isn’t directly involved with operating Common Core. The standards themselves are essentially listed goals and don’t require schools to buy specific textbooks or teach classes in a mandated way.
Nevada adopted Common Core standards in 2009 under former Gov. Jim Gibbons. The standards were approved nearly unanimously by the Legislature at the time.
A total of 45 states have adopted the standards, but repealing legislation has been introduced in more than a dozen. Lawmakers in Oklahoma and Indiana repealed the standards in 2014.
Fordham Institute analyst Michael Brickman testified against the bill at the hearing and said the Washington, D.C., think tank found Nevada’s Common Core standards are superior to the state’s prior standards.
“I’m not here saying the standards that you have in place are perfect, but they are a major upgrade to what you had before,” he said.
Several dozen people against Common Core swarmed the Legislature before the bill’s hearing Wednesday, with some holding signs comparing the set of education standards to communism. Former California State University, Fullerton, professor Virginia Stearrett was among the protesters and said program sets impossible standards for students.
“They’re not rigorous, they’re ridiculous,” she said.
Republican Sen. Scott Hammond, a teacher in Las Vegas, said he was concerned that implementing the standards would take away teacher input and control on a local level. Hammond said states accepted the standards before studying if they were actually effective.
But reverting away from Common Core would mean a huge financial cost for the state’s school districts.
The Clark County School District estimates that repealing the standards and reverting to a different set of educational requirements could cost upward of $63 million to buy textbooks and re-train teachers.
School lobbyist Joyce Haldeman said using common standards helps the district compare successes and find areas of improvements with other school districts.
“Even if there wasn’t a fiscal note, we’d still be testifying against it,” she said. “The notion that you want to compare apples to apples rather than apples to kumquats is a good thing.”