Will Common Core Survive in Wisconsin?

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MacIver News Service | January 15, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] The Assembly Committee on Education is expected to hold a public hearing and executive session on bills relating to Common Core in Wisconsin today at 10AM. After an outcry from constituents about the implementation of Common Core, legislators spent months reviewing the educational standards. The Assembly Select Committee on Common Core State Standards passed recommendations that would be turned into legislation.

That legislation includes requiring the Department of Public Instruction to establish model academic standards for the state and prohibiting the collection of students’ biometric data. Will this put a stop to Common Core in Wisconsin?

Find out more about the Assembly recommendations below and check back here for an update on the hearing.

Assembly Common Core Committee Approves All Recommendations on Dec. 12th

The Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards voted on eight separate recommendations on Thursday and approved every one of them.

After months of debate over the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and public hearings around the state, the Assembly Committee will propose these recommendations to Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) where they may become the basis for legislation.

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The recommendations include modifying current law to ensure student privacy, restricting the types of biometric student data that can be collected, and that Wisconsin would be best served by creating its own educational standards, among others.

A full list of the eight recommendations is available here.

Some legislators blamed the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for having a non-transparent approval of CCSS, which led to an outcry from the public for hearings on the standards. Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) called for the legislature to utilize their authority over DPI to ensure the public is not left out of the conversation in the future.

“It is the duty of the legislature to set public policy, and we should move immediately to establish a statutory process for the continued review and adoption of model academic standards,” Knudson said in a column published by the MacIver Institute. “Wisconsin needs a change so that we might ensure that the real concerns of parents, educators, and the public are never left out again.”

Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) was very critical of DPI, as well.

“Bottom line, DPI did a horrible job of rolling out the Common Core standards,” Schraa said at the executive session on Thursday. Schraa also said that many of the recommendations were meant to be proactive to protect students and parents from problems that other states have experienced with the implementation of CCSS.

Democrats on the committee seemed to disagree on most of the recommendations, voting against almost all of them.

Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) said she felt the public hearings and committee meetings were a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. Debating against the first two recommendations, Pope said she did not think a problem existed, so there was no reason to have legislation.

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Referring to the recommendations that would ensure the privacy of students and restrict the collection of biometric data, Pope said, “this would be like telling the National Guard not to bomb Minnesota. It’s not going to happen.”

Both the Senate and Assembly will look at recommendations from their respective committees on CCSS and likely propose legislation in line with those recommendations. A timeline has yet to be announced for such legislation.

State Senator Calls for Complete Repeal of Common Core

Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) called for a complete repeal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in a press release shortly after the Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards approved all eight of its recommendations. Vukmir wants to have the state suspend all implementation of CCSS and work to create Wisconsin’s own set of standards.

“While the Common Core State Standards may be better than what we currently have, I believe we can do better. They do not have the rigor associated with the top state standards in the US and around the world,” Vukmir said. “The standards do not appropriately take into account the needs of advanced students.”

The state Senator said she looks forward to discussing a range ideas with her fellow committee members.