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Walker backs bill to undo Wis. academic standards

  • Associated Press
  • February 19, 2014 - 11:00 AM

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker supports a proposal being rushed through the Legislature that would lead to the undoing of statewide Common Core academic standards and instead give lawmakers the power to approve new standards.

The state Assembly Education Committee plans to vote Thursday on the Republican-sponsored measure. But state Superintendent Tony Evers fought the change, calling it "wholly unacceptable." the Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday (http://tiny.cc/pj7ibx ).

The measure would create a 15-member board to create model academic standards. The board would be responsible for writing new academic standards, starting with English, reading and math in the first year and social studies and science by year three.

Bill author Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, would have preferred to introduce legislation that fully repealed Wisconsin's adoption of Common Core but didn't have enough votes to pass it, her legislative aide, Jason Rostan, said.

The measure says the new board would be co-chaired by one representative each from Gov. Scott Walker's office and from the state Department of Public Instruction. Walker's office could pick five members of the committee while DPI would be allowed to pick four members.

Evers said he was still concerned the proposal would politicize the process of writing standards for education in Wisconsin.

"Frankly, I can't believe that this is what the citizens of Wisconsin want — that legislators are going to be writing standards. It's way above my pay range, and it's way above theirs," Evers said. "There's an effort to outnumber me, which seems odd, and then it just throws it into a political arena and has people writing standards that don't have a clue."

Rostan said it's up to Evers how politicized the process would be.

"The only time the Legislature is going to act is if the superintendent says, 'You know what, we are going to go in a completely different direction,'" Rostan said.

Vukmir's bill also would call for creation of a new statewide test to measure how well students are meeting the standards. That would replace a test scheduled to be given next year that's aligned to the Common Core standards.

Walker, who has said he wants Wisconsin to create its own standards that are more rigorous than Common Core, said he supported the bill even though it would require new tests for schools after Walker and the Legislature approved the tests set to be used next fall.

Walker said he didn't think the Legislature would get involved in writing the standards, and instead the group created under the bill would handle it.

"I'm confident in the end you're not going to have a debate topic by topic on the floor of the Legislature," Walker said.

Under the legislation, other members of the board would include a public school teacher; a teacher at a private school that receives vouchers; a superintendent of a public school district;, an elementary school principal; and the parent of a student who's using state vouchers to attend a private school.

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