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Committee discusses 'Common Core' changes

A guest teacher facilitates a discussion in an Explorations classroom. By DanielbdaDirector (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A guest teacher facilitates a discussion in an Explorations classroom. By DanielbdaDirector (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MADISON (WRN)  Bills relating to the state’s Common Core standards for education are being considered at the Capitol. Three measures were the subject of a public hearing on Wednesday before the Assembly Education Committee.

Legislation from Republican Representative Dean Knudson of Hudson (AB 617) would require more public input and legislative oversight on the drafting of any new standards. Knudson noted the that current standards in math and language arts were adopted by the state Department of Public Instruction in 2010 with little of the former, and none of the latter.

“This is not a usurping of the role of DPI. This is an empowerment of DPI, but also putting the legislature in an oversight role. We’re not the cooks in the kitchen. We’re going to taste the finished product and say yes or no,” Knudson said.

“Parents, citizens, the legislature, really needs to have a full understanding of what’s going on,” said committee chair, Representative Steve Kestell. “I think there’s just no question that didn’t happen in this case.”

The Department of Public Instruction is opposed to the measure, although Assistant Superintendent Sheila Briggs said DPI would be willing to work with lawmakers to “figure out better ways to engage the general public.”

Briggs testified that the most problematic provision in Knudson’s bill is a requirement that standards be reviewed every six years. “I think the thing that we are most concerned about is having our hands tied,” she told committee members. “We ourselves put a schedule in place for standards review, and based on feedback from the field, we had to move away from that.”

Knudson’s bill would require that DPI create model academic standards in regular and advanced math, English, science, social studies and the arts. Public hearings would be required in each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. And the agency would be required to appoint an advisory panel that includes parents, teachers, district administrators and others.

Another bill, co-authored by state Representative Don Pridemore (AB 616), prohibits the collection of biometric data including fingerprint identification, retinal scanning, and hand or palm geometry.. “We’re not collecting it now, so what this bill basically attempts to do is establish today’s requirements and reporting procedures as what we want to limit it to in the future,” Pridemore said.

The third bill (AB 618), written by Pridemore, would direct DPI to annually post on its website a comprehensive list of every type of data collected on students, and the reason for its collection. It also would prohibit DPI from providing such data to any federal agency.

The bills were drafted following a series of statewide public hearings on Common Core, which were held last year. On Thursday, the Senate Select Committee for Review of the Common Core Standards, which held the joint hearings with an Assembly panel, will review and vote on the recommendations that will be submitted as the committee’s final report.