At issue is the Common Core Standards. The GOP controlled legislature in Wisconsin is prepared to act on proposals to end the use of Common Core Academic Standards and put themselves in firm control of new statewide academic standards.
Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Schools, states that this legislation would not only dismantle the standards but also undermine the authority of the Department of Instruction while greatly furthering the politics associated with the Common Core.
The Common Core State Standards, developed by Governors and State School Superintendents, were adopted three years ago by Wisconsin and by most other states. While the national academic standards increase expected outcomes for knowledge and skills for students sought by a supportive business community, conservatives proposing legislation claim that the Common Core Standards are intrusive, outside control of what is taught in school.
The Milwaukee Journal reports that public testimony before the legislative committee March 6, 2014 by over 100 school superintendents and teachers to the Wisconsin’s Legislative committee has for now put on hold a bill to do away with the common core and put the legislature in control of academic standards. Currently the substitute amendment proposes a Model Academics Standards Board in control of new education standards. This board would include the state superintendent of schools but would also be comprised by a majority of governor appointees. The proposed bill includes the ability of the legislature to decide education policy if the state superintendent does not agree with the new Standards Board’s recommendations. Originally the idea was thought to be a light advisory board to the state superintendent, but soon was changed to give the legislature greater control and fast tracked to get to a vote to send for Governor Scott Walker’s signature. Under the proposed legislation the new standards board would submit proposals for standards to the state superintendent, then the superintendent would submit his recommendations to a joint legislative committee. That committee would have the power to reject the superintendent’s proposals and pick the board’s recommendations instead.
Wisconsin, which last year received a waiver of the federal “No Child Left Behind” mandates, has been progressing towards an online computer based “Smarter Balanced” assessment for the next school year. This assessment based on the Common Core and also being implemented by other states, has taken years to develop. This new statewide test based on the recommended standards would replace the state’s high stakes testing system mandated for accountability of public schools.
Will this proposed legislation return control to local school boards, or will what is taught in Wisconsin schools be handed over to partisan politics? Will lawmakers debate and alter science standards related to evolution, creationism, and climate change? What about social studies topics like civil rights, religious history, and political movements? Will education in Wisconsin change with the prerogative of newly elected lawmakers every 2 to 4 years? All these questions raised by state Superintendent, Tony Evers, are being asked by educators, parents, and students in Wisconsin.
Scott Walker backs review of Common Core school standards – Wisconsin State Journal
Common Core State Initiative – Common Core State Standards Initiative
Assembly Substitute Amendment to Assembly Bill 617 – Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI
State Superintendent, Tony Evers response to legislation – Wisconsin DPI
NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Waivers – U. S. Department of Education
Educators launch defense of Common Core at Senate hearing – Milwaukee Journal