SD State Ed to Defend Common Core in Upcoming Legislative Session

SD State Ed to Defend Common Core in Upcoming Legislative Session

The secretary of the South Dakota State Education Department states she is ready to defend the Common Core standards in the upcoming legislative session. “We’re going to stay firm, and hopefully the message will be clear that it’s the right thing for South Dakota,” said Secretary Melody Schopp, according to an Associated Press article.

Schopp said the state’s prior standards were not rigorous enough and that Common Core will make sure South Dakota’s high school graduates are ready for college and careers.

Though Schopp argues that the standards were a state-led effort, on November 29, 2010, the Common Core standards were adopted by the South Dakota Board of Education, the members of which are unelected and appointed by the governor of the state. The South Dakota legislature did not review the standards before they were adopted by the state Board of Education.

In addition, the Common Core State Standards were never tested prior to being adopted by the states; thus, there is no valid way to support the claim that they are “rigorous” and make students “college and career ready.”

As Americans in more states are questioning the validity of the Common Core initiative, criticism has intensified and has led lawmakers in many states to consider legislative action to delay or repeal the standards.

In New Hampshire, for example, a bill to ban implementation of the Common Core standards will be introduced in the state House during next year’s legislative session. The language of the New Hampshire bill reflects the fact that state legislatures have not had input into the standards and that the approval process was conducted largely through state boards of education, which rarely garner much media attention. The New Hampshire bill would require:

…the state board of education to terminate all plans, programs, activities, and expenditures relative to the implementation of the common core state educational standards which have been adopted or may be adopted by the state board, including any assessments and instruction based upon such standards.

South Dakota State Rep. Jim Bolin (R), a retired teacher who has been critical of the standards, said that in the legislative session beginning Tuesday, he and his colleagues will introduce bills that seek to limit or even repeal Common Core.

The proposals include bills that would phase out the standards over time, delay the standards until they can be evaluated, or allow parents to have their children opt out of testing and prohibit their children’s personal information from being given to the federal government.

“Fundamentally, it goes against the basic principle of American education, which is that local people who pay local taxes to support their local schools are going to be cut out of the educational process,” Bolin said. “They’re going to lose control of their local school.”

Schopp, however, argued that the standards allow for each school district to choose its own curriculum materials.

Lawmakers are skeptical whether the legislature can repeal Common Core because the state has already invested a significant amount of time and money in the initiative.

David Lust, House Republican Leader, said Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) would likely veto any repeal legislation.

Schopp said that Daugaard has read the new standards, supports them, and is eager to deal with other education issues from this point forward.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Rave said he is in favor of preventing the federal government from data mining and requiring legislative approval before Common Core could be expanded to other subject areas besides math and English. “I think the logical thing to do, since many schools have it in place, would be to address some of the concerns and just get a handle on it going forward,” said Rave.

House Democratic Leader Bernie Hunhoff expressed his concern that the Common Core involves so much paperwork and regulation that instruction time is diminished. “I don’t think we can necessarily just start over and trash it,” Hunhoff said. “I think we’re too deep in now to go back, but we need to make it work the best we can.”

But Rep. Bolin recognizes that Common Core is becoming a national issue, and he is encouraged that other lawmakers are joining him in the fight against it.

“I just have a few more allies now,” he said.