State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine)
State Sen. John Lehman

(Madison, WI) Many citizens across the U.S. want legislators to hear their concerns about Common Core State Standards. They can learn much by watching Wisconsin. The Wisconsin legislature, in an effort to protect local control of schools, is providing a series of public hearings about Common Core Standards. The first was held on October 3, 2013. Democratic Leaders slung insults to the public in attendance while opponents of Common Core offered solutions that can be quickly and inexpensively implemented. The success of those recommended alternatives have been field tested and have been proven successful with students across all socio-economic and racial lines.

As opponents of common core addressed the federal overreach, politicization of instruction, and soft standards, advocates of the Common Core like Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) referred to the concerns of Common Core opponents as “kooky” and Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Verona) condescendingly explained as she spoke to the leadership of the Department of Public Instruction and the audience, “At some point we need to recognize the expertise of these people and let them do their jobs.”  The implication is: since the Department of Public Instruction is filled with people who have PhDs, the only people who have the right to question them are others with PhDs. The rest of us must be in awe of the DPI and how dare we question them.

These attitudes would not be condoned by a citizenry or a legislature under a Constitutional Republic. They are the result of a democracy that is devolving into a government of mob rule, just what our founders warned against. These legislators were elected to represent people of both parties, yet they believe that they need to represent only people who hold their elitist views. This is a direct result of years of federal intervention in the educational system, the very thing the opponents of Common Core Standards are trying to stop. If respecting state laws that provide for local control of schools is “kooky”, then I am proud to be among the “kooky”.

State Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts

My testimony focused on solutions which can be quickly and inexpensively implemented into the Wisconsin school district before by the 2014-2015 school year, just in time to avoid the federally aligned tests which were to be ready for the 2014-2015 school year and would be a final step in federalization of the entire school curriculum. Superintendent Tony Evers explained in a July 31, 2013, Wisconsin Eye interview, that Common Core will not be going away because all testing is federally aligned to Common Core and those tests will drive curricula. What Evers with his PhD forgets is that “We the People” are still free to reject the federally aligned tests through exercising our right to local control of schools.

Swift action is essential. My testimony provided an option that can be adopted NOW and implemented by the 2014-2015 school year at minimal cost to the state.

Before implementing Common Core State Standards, Massachusetts’s students led our country in reading, math, English, and science for many years because of four simple changes in attitude and philosophy which require no additional teacher training or major funding. Those changes should become guidelines for Wisconsin’s DPI and include: increasing standards (Algebra I is required before grade nine), guaranteeing that all curricula is “back-to-basics” by removing and forbidding all socially and politically ideological centered curricula, requiring that NO specific teaching methods be required as part of the standards: remove constructivist teaching methods currently required in Common Core Standards and lessons, and treating teachers as professionals by encouraging teachers to use the method(s) they believe are best suited to teach a specific lesson to a specific group of students.

The Massachusetts standards, unlike Common Core State Standards, are truly internationally benchmarked because they are shaped after the TIMSS standards, an alternative provided in my previous testimony during the May hearings before a Wisconsin Joint Committee on Common Core.

It is essential that Common Core Opponents across the United States focus upon positive, immediate, and effective solutions as we continue through the three additional hearings. This process will also reveal imbedded flaws. The DPI emphasized that changes will take years to create and to implement. We under-educated “kooks” must insist that people with the expertise of those at the DPI find a way to accomplish this task expeditiously.

We must continue to be the voice for the children. It is our duty to protect our Constitutional Republic. Both can be accomplished through a quality educational system which results when parents and taxpayers decide how our children will be educated. That is what local control of schools is intended to do.

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1 comment
  1. Under the proposed (federalized) Common Core, the teachers and school board would be limited from making changes in the classroom. The whole “It would take years to implement change” argument is a joke. This is only true if local control (PTOs, school boards, and teachers) is completely cut off. An individual school or district can implement change as quickly as required. Best recent example? Sandy Hook Elementary was able to move their entire school to a different building and began holding classes in a very short time frame, a decision made and carried out at the local level.

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