September 30, 2014

Common Core critics converge at Capitol

Wisconsin adopted the Common Core educational standards on reading and math in 2010 without much controversy or political posturing. But three years later, the standards which have now been adopted by the majority of the states in the nation have become fodder for the latest round of partisan maneuvering at the Capitol. A pair of select committees charged with reviewing the standards were formed under a provision in the state budget, and those panels held the first of four public hearings on the matter on Thursday in Madison.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who defended the standards in his recent state of education address, took the lead once again on Thursday.

“I would say the dysfunction that we’re seeing in Washington, D.C. is clearly evident in this issue,” said Evers. “People . . . have this extraordinary phobia that this is federally driven, and that’s just baloney.”

Critics charge that the standards may serve to undermine local control of education, but West Bend School District Superintendent Ted Neitzke said districts around the state have incorporated Common Core in their curriculums.

“We take those standards and we make local decisions involving our school boards and we determine what’s best for our children there,” said Neitzke. “These standards are much higher than anything we’d seen before. They frightened many of us, but now they are the lowest standards in our district.”

“Any districts adopting these standards, just practically cannot really personalize it to their district,” claimed Jeff Horn, a parent in the DeForest school district north of Madison. “There just won’t be enough time, and they’re going to get a ding for anything extra that they do.”

DPI plans to have the standards will be reflected in a new state standardized test which will be implemented next year.

“The Smarter Balance assessment exam, the content of textbooks and the curriculum are all tightly intertwined to allow strict management of knowledge, which can be easily hijacked into indoctrination and mind control, or what we used to call brainwashing,” said Jim Scott, a Common Core critic from Wisconsin Rapids.

Three additional hearings on Common Core will be held:

  • 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. October 16 at the Fond du Lac City/County Building.
  • 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. October. 23 at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire.
  • 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. October. 30 at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.