Common Core to be discussed by Mehlville school board

Board vice president raises questions on new standards

By Kari Williams

The new Common Core State Standards will be a topic of discussion at a future Mehlville Board of Education meeting at the request of the newest board member, Lori Trakas.

The board vice president made her request at a recent Board of Education meeting because she said the “community has a lot of questions” about Common Core, which are voluntary state standards intended to prepare students for college and the work force. The discussion will occur by the board’s first August meeting. A specific date has not been set.

Questions Trakas proposed include when district officials first knew about Common Core and if there is an additional cost to implement the standards, among other issues.

“I have a question about (Individualized Education Programs). How’s Common Core going to affect our IEP students?” Trakas asked. “… I don’t know the answers to these questions, but is it just to move students along? You know? What kind of failsafe do we have to know that they’re really learning it?”

Superintendent Eric Knost said he appreciates the opportunity to have conversations about Common Core, and the “appropriate way” to provide information to the board is through a presentation with board President Mark Stoner facilitating the meeting.

“… When I can have (conversations with community members) — unless somebody is just politically minded on the topic — they will understand the facts and will see it’s not quite the threat (and) that there’s a lot of spin around it,” Knost said. “… It’s a heated topic because it’s politicized and nothing about that is constructive.”

Stoner said his main concern is how Common Core impacts the board as a governing body.

“We have talked about Common Core, but we haven’t really gotten into the nitty gritty of it,” he said. “… We’ve talked around the edges and the standards of it, but we haven’t really talked about Common Core itself. So I think it would be worthwhile for our community as well as the board.”

However, the superintendent said district officials have been “talking about Common Core for a long time.”

“The frequency of how much that’s been discussed at our board meetings over the years probably is the hottest topic — whether we’re talking about full-day kindergarten (or) curriculum adoptions,” Knost said.

Board member Elaine Powers said presentations to the board are made “in the context of” Common Core.

The superintendent also said though he recommends having a Common Core discussion, the board has to be “cautious with two things” — that the presentation is informational and that it is clear a local school board does not have the ability to implement changes to Common Core.

Changes to Common Core State Standards would occur through legislation and by elected officials, according to Knost.

The Mehlville School District, according to Knost, has been implementing alignment standards for many years.

“It’s nothing new,” he said. “It’s just what they call it now, so it’s important for people to look at the side-by-side comparisons, so I think we have to keep that in mind.”

Knost said the school district’s website,

, outlines “key shifts” and comparisons between Common Core and the existing standards, the Show-Me Standards.

“(The district website) shows what they require, key pieces in grade one and what is the side-by-side comparison to the existing standards …,” he said, “and when you sift it all down, that’s what it is. And I’ve said to folks that I actually like to debate. I actually welcome the debate when it comes to, ‘Hey, is that a high enough standard? Or is that too low?’ That’s the kind of debate that (we) should be having.”