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Replace Common Core With Common Sense

By Chris Martinson, Wolf River Area Patriots

Last weeks Press Star contained an editorial by State School Superintendent, Tony Evers,
defending the embattled Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). These standards
were adopted for Wisconsin in June 2010 by Evers office with no public hearing process, and
little input from local districts. Many states are considering withdrawing from Common Core.
The 2015 Wisconsin legislative season will include a bill to abolish CCSSI here.
On the surface, the reasons for CCSSI may seem good: A) a perceived need for uniformity in
education to make it easier for students who move from state to state, B) A uniform
measurement of accountability in the federal grant process. C) Uniformity in preparing
secondary students for college entrance testing or the work force.
These reasons notwithstanding, a grassroots movement has sprung up opposing Common Core.
Some of its spokespersons include teachers, parents, students, businesspeople, and academia.
It includes people across the political spectrum from conservative to liberal. Why do many feel it
is so bad?
1) The American System is based upon self-governance and local control, and our
constitution protects the sovereignty of state and local control. CCSSI is based upon the
goal of uniformity throughout the nation in k12 education. Can this uniformity be created
without top-down, centralized planning, that removes decision-making from local school
boards and the citizens that they represent?
2) CCSSI is an elite group, not elected or appointed by our elected officials who have
developed these standards in private meetings without open access.
3) There are many deficiencies in the standards. A new book called Common Ground on
Common Core includes essays from 19 leaders across the country citing the deficiencies of
Common Core. One contributor is Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor of Education, who was
chosen for the validation committee of Common Core English standards, but refused to
sign off on the final product, citing grave deficiencies.
4) State and Federal mandates interfere with good education. Do you know
educators or school boards who think we need more mandates? CCSSI represents
mandates on steroids.
5) Bottom-up is better than top-down. When parents have choices such as voucher
schools, and charter schools, it creates incentives within public education to improve,
without top-down mandates. We do not need a national standards initiative to raise
standards when (if we expand choices) parents will spur on public schools to adopt higher
Is the tradeoff between freedom and federalized standards worth the price? The greatest
resources that our districts have are the citizens who live and work and own businesses in the
district, who have a much greater incentive to see our youth succeed and learn. The worst thing
we can do is force school boards to be more responsive to state and federal committees than to
its own citizens.
I encourage our legislators to move quickly in 2015 to abolish adherence to CCSSI here in
Wisconsin. While I believe there are many reasons for rejecting Common Core (see
www.protectyourchildsfuture.com for more), the most important reason is the threat to
liberty and self-governance that we hold most precious in our nation.