I watched Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s State of the State address for a couple reasons. One I was curious what, if anything, he would say about Common Core. Second, as an Iowan he’s been discussed as a prospective presidential candidate and in a recent poll taken in Iowa he was 3rd. In his inaugural speech he said nothing about Common Core. Last night he did in the midst of other remarks made about education.
In addition, to worker training, we will ensure every child—regardless of background or birthright—has access to a quality education. We will continue to empower families to make the choice that is right for their sons and daughters.
Tonight, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation ensuring objective information is available for each and every school receiving public funds in this state. Provide the information and allow parents to make the choice.
No need for bureaucrats or politicians to make that choice—I trust parents. Give them access to objective information and they will make the choice that is best for their children.
And speaking of what is best for our students, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass legislation making it crystal clear that no school district in the state is required to use Common Core standards. Going forward, I want to eliminate any requirement to use Common Core.
My sons graduated from outstanding public schools in Wauwatosa and my nieces are in public schools as well, so I have a vested interest, like parents all across the state, in high standards. But those standards should be set by people from within Wisconsin—and preferably at the local level.
I was quoted in the Wisconsin paper, The Capital Times, on the speech.
Shane Vander Hart, editor of the Iowa-based Christian conservative site Caffeinated Thoughts, said Walker’s mention of France and his criticisms of federal overreach were the two points at which the governor’s speech transcended Wisconsin politics. Vander Hart said he believes Walker could make a strong case for how his experience as governor would translate to the Oval Office.
Walker also made a strong case for limited, effective government, Vander Hart said, praising the governor’s rejection of Common Core and his stance against the EPA.
“Taking on the federal government on energy policies will play well with Iowa’s grassroots conservatives,” Vander Hart said. “I was looking (for an) aspect of his speech that would address federal overreach. Walker delivered, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not in his Condition of the State address today.”
Unfortunately the reporter boiled down my comments on Common Core to “praising the governor’s rejection of Common Core.” I understand my comments went beyond what she was looking for with a 2016 story. For the sake of our Wisconsin readers I want to share what I emailed the author of the article, Jessie Opoien, last night after watching the speech responding to several of her questions.
In terms of his education policy his statement, “I trust parents” encompasses a shift that must take place within public education. A parent’s sovereignty over their children’s education must be paramount. His comments on Common Core stand out in contrast to what I’ve seen in my state. Governor Walker appears to be serious about making sure that local control is returned to parents, taxpayers and their elected school boards. Being versed in education policy I am concerned (about) how many school districts will opt-out if the state mandates Common Core-aligned tests. I would hope that is something the Wisconsin Legislature would address along with any opt-out bill they consider.
My concerns with an opt-out bill (which has not been filed yet) stands. So far Wisconsin schools are expected to administer Smarter Balanced. Then you have a school accountability bill that I believe would eliminate any desire on the part of a school board to opt-out when the accountability is largely based on assessments which will come in the form of Smarter Balanced Assessments. Also, private schools that receive voucher money are tied into the accountability system outlined in the bill. Not to mention if a school is considering a failing school as part of their improvement plan they have to use curriculum that is aligned to the state’s model academic standards which is Common Core.
If we are to take Governor Walker seriously then he either needs to call for a full repeal, not just an opt-out of Common Core, and it’s assessment or make it clear that schools can opt-out of Smarter Balanced and the Common Core standards then use another assessment tool. He also must call for the legislature to amend the school accountability bill to exclude a requirement for failing schools to abide by Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards.