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Local legislators respond to Common Core report

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Gazette staff
December 11, 2013

Local legislators had a mixed response to Wednesday's release of the report about Common Core Standards.

Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, was on the Senate committee that also looked at Common Core. Lengthy hearings showed that opponents' objections were simply not true, Cullen said.

The standards are not, for example, a national conspiracy to force schools to teach a particular curriculum, Cullen said, and the standards do not threaten local control.

Cullen said he would have no objection to the Legislature reviewing the standards every six or seven years, as long as the process was open to the public.

 Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, said the Common Core academic standard represents a benchmark for comparative purposes.

 “It's not about setting curriculum or anything like that,” said Kolste, who represents the 44th Assembly District, including Janesville. “It creates a floor of standards so people going from state to state know what they're comparing.”

Kolste said the U.S. education system is often compared to others around the world, and it is often said that it comes up short.

“Our education system is always being compared internationally,” she said. “If we're going to continue to lambaste education compared to international standards and results, we need to know what the comparisons are."

Kolste said she found it strange that the Assembly committee would release its recommendations Wednesday morning and then vote on them the next day.

So, too, did Rep. Janis Ringhand, D- Evansville.

“I guess that doesn't surprise me because we've rushed so many things through without taking the time to properly vet and discuss the issues,” said Ringhand, who represents the 45th Assembly District.

Ringhand said she is also trying to understand the sudden urgency to initiatives and standards that have been in place since 2010.

“Why are they all of a sudden not good enough?” she said of math and English standards. “It's a starting point and its something that can be improved upon.

“The schools have already gone to great lengths and expense to implement them.”

In an e-mail, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said that the concerns she has about the Common Core Standards are “generally not related to the rigor” of the standards.

“However, there is concern about the measurement, tracking and application of national standards,” Loudenbeck wrote. “People are primarily concerned that local control related to curriculum is being usurped by the federal government, and that privacy rights of students and families are being compromised under Common Core Standards.”

Loudenbeck said she would “thoughtfully consider” all of the recommendations coming out of the committee in anticipation of any legislative proposals that arise from its work.

Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, and Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, did not respond to requests for comment.



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