Some members of the working groups trying to come up with new education standards for Missouri schools tell the state Board of Education there are still some disagreements on the best way for them to work.
Some are still expressing frustration that facilitators from the Department of Education are working with their groups. Others say political agendas are standing in the way of real progress and honest work towards standards that will benefit children.
Jessica Boyster is on one of those work groups, and doesn’t think the bill that created them intended for those facilitators to be involved.
“I’m also still searching for an answer,” says Boyster, “why they feel that when a group such as K-5 [English/language arts] that successfully managed to get a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a secretary elected faster than any other group, why would they need a DESE facilitator?”
State Board President Peter Herschend thinks meetings will run better with a moderator involved.
“You can call it ‘facilitator,’ ‘moderator;’ not someone who is running the meeting,” says Herschend. “The function of a really good moderator, a really good facilitator, is to see that all sides are heard, that the information that is coming in is correct information.”
Pam Hedgepeth was to have been one of those facilitators, but says she has been shut out of the process.
“We have a great opportunity right now to have lots of voices be heard, but it’s really tough because there’s a strong political agenda driving this force,” Hedgepath tells the Board, “and that political agenda often times is not representing the 75-percent of teachers across the state that think the current standards that we have for kids make a lot of sense.”
Most groups say they are still using the facilitators in some way.
Several work groups expressed concerns about some of their appointed members not showing up, and the costs to attend each meeting piling up for those that do show up.
Herschend says there’s nothing the Board can do about those problems.
“We were allocated no budget, and remember [the groups] are not ours,” says Herschend. He says when the Board appoints work groups, “we provide stipend, travel, and we have to work with the local district because if it’s a working teacher and it’s a class day, there is a cost of substitution.”
The groups’ recommendations could range from the creation of all new standards to staying with the Common Core standards, which are currently in place. Herschend anticipates some proposed changes.
“Anybody who says there isn’t going to be beneficial input from these hearings,” says Herschend, “I think there will absolutely be an impact on Missouri’s standards.”
Those groups must present their proposals by October, 2015.