From the Journal Sentinel, we learned that more than 100 superintendents and school board members packed a Senate chamber on March 6 in opposition to a bill that could derail the transition to new educational standards in Wisconsin. "At issue, are the Common Core State Standards, a set of expectations for English and math instruction that most states have adopted and have been implementing for years." ----See Journal Sentinel report Educators Launch Defense Of Common Core At Senate Hearing.
The March 6 JS editorial Wisconsin Should Stick With New Standards asserts that the Common Core standards were completed in 2010 and have been adopted by 45 states. "They were the creation of a bipartisan group of state school superintendents and governors. The aim: Create a national set of expectations for students from one state to another. This state bill threatens to undermine that effort."
"Senate Bill 619 calls for creation of a new state academic standards committee, which would be populated by political appointees (Gov. Walker would get six picks alone). The committee would be charged with reviewing the Common Core Standards that already are being put into place in Wisconsin. The board also would make recommendations about how to rewrite the standards. "
"Walkers staff wrote the bill, which is backed by state Sens. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee). " The editorial calls it an unwise and highly partisan effort that threatens to undo years of hard work to establish a nationwide set of academic standards.
At the March 6 hearing, superintendents argued the proposed committee "would just politicize the process while failing to improve outcomes for students."
The Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent said the DPI is "best positioned to make decisions about education in our state" and "questioned why lawmakers would want to set up a panel to review and potentially replace Common Core, when the districts had already spent so much time and money to develop and implement strong standards."
The Journal Sentinel article informs us that drafts of the Common Core were reviewed by university professors, teachers, principals, and other members of professional education associations.
The Superintendent of the Pewaukee School District said her district's average ACT college entrance exam score has risen faster since the implementation of Common Core than any time in recent history.
The news article also informs us that at the hearing (as of the afternoon) only one superintendent testified in favor of the bill---Joe Garza of the New Berlin School District. "But Garza also offerred a long list of changes he thought the bill needed. And he said, he didn't support a major reroute on the Common Core English and math standards already underway in his school."
So, Garza sort of endorsed the bill, but with a large order of waffle fries on the side?
"Jeanne Williams, professor of education at Ripon College and president of the Wisconsin State Association for Teacher Education urged lawmakers to stay the course on the Common Core. "The standards are not perfect, but they are far more specific, focused and demanding than the previously used model academic standards" in Wisconsin, she said. Backing away now would send the message that the 'winds of political opinion' drive educational policy in Wisconsin. "
Apparently, Garza's kite was fluttering in those political winds.