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Teachers, School Administrators Turn Out To Support Common Core

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School district administrators showed up in force to testify against a bill that would undermine Common Core education standards
School district administrators showed up in force to testify against a bill that would undermine Common Core education standards. Photo: Shawn Johnson / WPR 

School district administrators and teachers turned out in force at the state Capitol today to speak out against a bill that would undercut Common Core education standards.

Dozens of school administrators filed into a legislative hearing room until it was hard to move. Pewaukee School Superintendent JoAnn Sternke told lawmakers that Common Core standards should stay put, since they’re already working for her students. She said her biggest worry, however, is what might happen if state government gets more involved in writing standards. “We worry that it will be politicized,” she said.

The bill would set up a new board made up of appointees from the Legislature, the governor and the state superintendent that would have to approve all education standards. It’s being pushed by Tea Party groups and conservative lawmakers who view the Common Core standards as a federal overreach.

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State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) is one such legislator: “Our schools exist for many reasons,” he said, “but the primary reason is to pass the keys of freedom to the next generation.”

Thiesfeldt says Common Core standards violates that. One of the parents who showed up to testify, Tracy Rath of Pewaukee, says she doesn’t like the way her school teaches her daughter.

“We turn back now,” Rath suggested, “because this is the only chance we have to turn back.”

But teacher Terry Kaldhusal of the Kettle Moraine School District sought to dispel that idea. While Common Core standards may be decided federally, he says the way to meet those goals is still decided locally for students like his. “The curriculum was determined by my district, by my school board,” Kaldhusal said. “The texts were determined by me, and the questions that my students need to answer today was determined by me.”

For all the attention this plan is getting, it may be dead this session. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says it’s unlikely to pass in its current form.

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