Repealing school boards’ choice puts politics ahead of policies

CAPITOL NEWSLETTER
Matt Pommer  Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Are Gov. Scott Walker’s national political ambitions the key to his plea to scrap Common Core academic standards for Wisconsin schools?

In a one paragraph statement in July the governor said he wanted the next Legislature to repeal the standards in place in 45 states and create a separate approach for Wisconsin. The idea drew sharp criticism from the Wisconsin Association of Schools Boards (WASB), Republican lawmakers who chair Education Committees in the Legislature, and the state’s chief school officer.

“It’s campaign season in Wisconsin and around the country,’’ said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, adding the governor’s idea means “politics trump sound policy.”

“It’s time to keep politics out of the discussion and remain focused on what’s most important – delivering a college-and careerready education to Wisconsin residents,” said Evers.

State Sen. Luther Olsen, RRipon, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the call for repeal was full of troubles. First, the Legislature had never enacted the standards. Local school districts had voluntarily adopted the approach across the state.

“I have to believe people in this state have a lot more faith in their local school board than they do in the Legislature in Madison,” Olsen said.

A sharper statement came from Assembly Committee Chair Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake. “People desperate to be re-elected will say anything,” he told reporters. Kestell, who is not seeking re-election, said a new effort wouldn’t make much difference.

‘’If you put a bunch of capable people together in a room to rewrite these standards, they’re going to look a lot like the Common Core,” Kestell said. Walker concedes that new standards may not look different.

The non-partisan Wisconsin Association of School Boards said districts across the state “have spent years and millions of dollars revising curriculum to meet the higher standards. That effort will be wasted if the standards are repealed.”

It noted the standards have been developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of State School Officers “to address a hodge-podge of un- uneven expectations” among schools across the country.

Common Core will “give students, parents and local policy-makers high expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level,” the WASB said in a statement in the wake of Walker’s call.

Forty five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense have adopted the standards. The first testing in Wisconsin would come next spring for ninth graders for measurement of math and language skills. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau says $23 million has been allocated this year for the new tests.

Results could provide a hint of how schools compare both to others in Wisconsin and to students in other states. But there is a fear on the political right wing that significant changes may occur. That was captured in an interview with State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac.

“The independence of our schools are (sic) at stake,” he said.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the governor with his call for repeal “is clearly playing to the extreme element in his party.”

Walker won’t have any trouble getting the votes of that part of the electorate in his bid for a second term as governor. But the quick repeal call could further boost him as a Tea Party favorite when Republicans select their ticket for president and vice president. He is not waiting until the new Legislature returns in January to get on the anti-Common Core bandwagon.


Readers Comments

Starting In 1959, President
Submitted by dpatric2@gmail.com on Mon, 2014-07-28 21:05.
Starting In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower discussed the creation of national goals for education that would enable the next generation of Americans, in every state, to be more competitive against other nations. Since then more than 8 major efforts have been promoted to bring our nation’s kids to a competitive level with the rest of the world. This present effort has been initiated and coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Wisconsin fully participated and is well into implementing the standards. The Common Core State Standards were developed to provide a roadmap for what children need to know and be able to do beginning in kindergarten through 12th grade. It is a good first step in moving education to even higher standards. Common Core challenges students to think critically and solve complex problems, to get them ready for college, careers, and living in the 21st century. Also a majority of business leaders, policymakers, educators, parents, and other individuals see the creation of these standards as vital to improving student achievement, closing equity gaps between states, and positioning the United States as a global education leader During my last 6 years of teaching students mathematics I started to change my own thinking about how mathematics should be taught and learned. I started to move away from a heavy emphasis on teaching students to memorize by rote…I moved away from having my students just understand superficial facts and figures without more in-depth understanding that was applicable to real-world problems. For those last 6 years, I worked with a new curriculum, new resources, and new teaching methods. I worked hard to help kids learn to analyze, to think about ideas and then test them. The main goal of that curriculum was to get kids to think like mathematicians rather than just do math. Time was my greatest challenge in this new approach to helping students learn mathematics. Time will be a factor in implementing all the new curriculums, new teaching strategies, and using the new resources to help kids accomplish the standards. We must give our kids more time in school to truly accomplish this effort to raise the performances of our kids…adjustments must be made in school day time on task and the school year will have to be expanded. I keep a close watch on my three grandchildren’s public school education and I fully support the common core standards. I agree with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s statement that says, "The [common core standards] will help teachers, students and parents know what is needed for students to succeed in college and careers, and will enable states, school districts and teachers to more effectively collaborate to accelerate learning and close achievement gaps nationwide."
Most recent cover pages:














Copyright 2009-2018 The Plymouth Review, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

113 E. Mill St., Plymouth WI 53073
Local: 920-893-6411 Toll Free: 1-877-467-6591
Fax: 920-893-5505