Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers

The Common Core battle is a fog covering the real issues facing American education: “Do we believe in state autonomy of education and in a state of laws or will we surrender our principles?” Eyes are on Wisconsin’s courageous Republican Governor and his Republican controlled Assembly and Senate.

If a Republican Governor and an Assembly and Senate controlled by Republicans can’t defend state autonomy in education, what freedoms will they protect? If they can’t insist that elected officials follow state laws, then what do conservatives represent?

Wisconsin’s battle against Common Core should be easily won because laws which give school districts and citizens the right to develop academic standards for their schools are in place. OOPs. Not so fast!

State Superintendent Tony Evers’ implementation of Common Core Standards ignored the state statutes that govern local control of schools. Apparently, Wisconsin’s conservative legislators can find no way to hold Tony Evers accountable for this choice.

Evers should correct his mistake and provide school leadership with information regarding their rights and obligations under existing statutes regarding local control of schools. Evers should also be required to give districts time and encouragement to create district standards. In other words, he should be required to enforce state laws.

Local control of schools requires school boards to provide opportunities for stakeholders to be involved in developing standards for the state. Few Superintendents and fewer school board members know that Wisconsin is a local-control state. The State Superintendent and state legislators share responsibility for this confusion.

When the State Superintendent accepts federal standards and imposes them upon our schools without soliciting local support for those standards, he has made it impossible for parents to exercise local control of schools. When legislators pass bills which provide funds for the implementation of a specific aspect of Common Core, school officials are led to believe that the funding of their schools is dependent upon the implementation of Common Core. No questions asked. The State Superintendent has limited our rights with impunity. Therefore, federal overreach is sanctioned by our legislators, state laws are undermined, and parental rights to make educational decisions for their children have been lost.

Wisconsinites are eagerly awaiting legislative efforts to correct those actions which have undermined the effective implementation of our state laws. We await a resolution for the violation of laws that protect our freedoms.

There are three new bills proposed by Wisconsin’s conservative legislators dealing with the foggy cover of Common Core. None of these bills address the real problems of federal overreach or the indifference that elected officials have for state laws. Actually, the new bills offer more laws that can be easily ignored by State Superintendent Tony Evers.

One of the bills requires that parents opt their children into any biometric testing before any testing is done. This sounds wonderful on the surface, but it is actually very dangerous. The bill misleads parents into thinking that their child will not be subjected to biometric testing. This would be true if the state of Wisconsin had consequences for local officials who ignore state laws.

Granted, the proposed law states that the attorney general or any district attorney may bring an action in circuit court to enforce the provision. Parents must ask: Based on state precedence and the language of the law, may the attorney general and the district attorney ignore any infringements upon this law?

If conservative legislative bodies in Wisconsin allow State Superintendent Evers to ignore local-control laws with impunity, then precedence has been set for him to ignore state laws governing biometric testing.

Again, the real issues are lost! The issues are NOT biometric testing or Common Core. The issues are these: What are conservatives willing to risk to protect state autonomy in education and to protect the integrity of state laws? Will they fight for freedoms and principles, or will they surrender to approaches that may promise a possible win in the next election?

I am not asking conservatives to risk any more than I am risking.

When our ancestors fought the Revolutionary War, they did not have support of the majority of the population. They were committing acts of treason against an English king who had no respect for the freedoms that Americans sought. Our ancestors risked their lives and their businesses to win the freedom to be governed by the consent of the people. If our ancestors had been more worried about their political or economic future than they were about freedoms, Americans would have submitted to tyranny.

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