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DPI Disagrees With More Legislative Involvement With School Curricula

Adding Legislature's Yea/Nay 'Has The Potential To Overwhelm Our Students And Teachers'

Photo: blossominc

Wisconsin’s education agency says a GOP-backed bill that would give the state Legislature more power to set curriculum standards is unworkable and the state ought to stick with existing Common Core Standards instead.

Just talking about federal Common Core curriculum standards gets some conservatives riled up, like Wisconsin Family Action’s Julaine Appling.

“I don’t like how we got (the standards). I don’t like the national involvement. I don’t like the curriculum choices that the standards seem to push people towards,” Appling said.

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But the bill that GOP state lawmakers are considering does nothing to change those standards — it only changes the way they’ll get written in the future. Specifically, the plan put forward by state Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, would require the Department of Public Instruction to revise academic standards every six years and give the Legislature the chance to approve or block them.

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

But DPI’s Sheila Briggs said the plan could tie her agency’s hands, take away local control, and create uncertainty for schools.

“The bill would require the development of new standards just as our students are starting to be tested on the old ones, a move that has the potential to overwhelm our students and teachers,” Briggs said.

Some Republicans chastised DPI for failing to include the public on Common Core. State Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, said that criticism was misguided.

“It may be the biggest thing DPI has failed to do,” Clark said, “was foresee that there’d be a national campaign to convince the American public that somehow Common Core was a national conspiracy led by the Obama administration to somehow steal the soul of our children.”

Whether Republicans will make any changes to Common Core standards this session remains unclear. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he’s not sure Assembly proposals, including Knudson’s, have the votes to pass his chamber.