Wisconsin Lawmakers Discuss Common Core Opt-Out

wisconsin-state-flagWisconsin Republican lawmakers are backing away from discussion of repealing the Common Core instead allowing schools to keep them if they want or adopt other standards if they would rather do that.

Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Top Republican lawmakers are backing away from rhetoric calling for an end to the Common Core State Standards, saying any legislation next year would allow school districts to keep the standards.

The acknowledgments come as Senate and Assembly leaders prepare bills to revamp the state’s school accountability system designed to gauge how well schools educate students. The possible changes include allowing school districts to choose among more than one test.

“We’re not necessarily going to repeal (Common Core) because they are standards adopted by DPI,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, referring to the state Department of Public Instruction. “If (school districts) like the standards, they can keep them. But I think we want to make sure that nobody feels compelled.”

They also want to offer multiple, nationally recognized tests that school districts could choose from.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is still calling for the Common Core’s repeal.

“Governor Walker has said he wants an accountability bill that includes a repeal of Common Core and bottom line is he wants to make sure that no school district in the state is required to use the Common Core standards,” said spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

Activists in Wisconsin tell me that Republican leadership is backing away from a campaign pledge to repeal the Common Core.  The increased their majority in the Wisconsin Senate and should be able to get this done.  Some are even skeptical about the Governor’s commitment and I don’t blame them.  One one hand he can talk tough on repealing Common Core to help bolster some additional street cred should he run for President.  On the other he could do nothing behind the scenes to push a repeal along.  I don’t know if that is what is happening here so for now I’ll go with what he says he will do.

To Speaker Vos’ point – it does precious little good to allow schools to opt-out if you don’t allow multiple tests.  Most schools won’t likely go for that.  Granted this takes the Common Core battle down to the school district level, but it would be easier for schools to opt-out if they know they won’t be held accountable to the Common Core instead of their own standards.  The U.S. Department of Education also makes it hard to have this kind of local control possible when they require a test that is linked to the state’s standards.

Then there is the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction dynamic.  If Common Core is repealed then I would suspect there will be a legal challenge from State Superintendent Tony Evers.  He’s already threatened it.  That is something that the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Walker could balk at as well.

So basically who knows what will come out the next legislative session in Wisconsin, but we’ll keep you up to date.