Thursday, December 12, 2013

Assembly Select Committee on Common Core State Standards Recommendations Released

Yesterday saw the culmination of one conservative political circus, and likely the start of the next phase of their continued attacks on public education.

You can view the press-release from Rep. Thiesfeldt HERE, which outlines the basics of the Assembly Committee's eight recommendations:
1. The legislature should modify current law to ensure the privacy of student data.  
2. The legislature should restrict the collection of biometric student data.  
3. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) should create a STEM-based addendum to Wisconsin 9-12 standards.  
4. The legislature should affirm the existing authority of Wisconsin K-12 public school boards to: A. Choose and adopt their own local academic standards. B. Choose and adopt their own curricular materials. C. Choose and adopt their own instructional methods.  
5. The legislature should establish a statutory process for the continued review and adoption of model academic standards that reasserts legislative control and includes substantial public input. That process should include review and consideration of Wisconsin’s prior revision attempts, incorporating the mathematic and English language arts standards that were revised and completed in 2009. Additionally, the process should begin with a review of mathematics and English language arts standards. 
6. The legislature urges DPI to refrain from adopting any Common Core-related or any other curricular materials. These decisions are best left to local school boards.  
7. The legislature should aggressively oppose any direct or indirect effort by the federal government to further intrude into Wisconsin K-12 education. Academic standards shall be adopted locally, without federal interference, and statewide assessments shall be adopted at the state level, upon the approval of the legislature. 
8. Wisconsin is best served by creating Wisconsin-based educational standards. 
Gotta love the politicization of education in Wisconsin.

Let's take these one by one.

1. Modify current law about student data? What does current law say about student data? Let's look at the Senate Committee's Full Report, which has this:
Student & Teacher Data Collection 
Although not a direct action of the CCSS, there is concern regarding the data being collected regarding students achievements. In 2011 the US Department of Education eased the regulations surrounding the Family Educations Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). There is the potential for third-parties to collect data without parental consent. The FERPA guidelines do require the state and local education agencies
to develop proper agreements, but it does not show signs of requiring inclusion of the parents.
Wow, sounds bad. The report continues with this:
There are legitimate privacy concerns, for both students and teachers, as data, once collected, can be used for all sorts of purposes. The vision that every student's performance could be tracked from preschool through their post high school endeavors may be appealing to some, but is gathering this information truly going to benefit the growth of the students?
Ummm... in a word, possibly.

There is a lot of discontent in the education community right now about the buzz-word of "data" right now. Sure, we as teachers love being able to see where students were and where they have come to, but we also detest the vast amount of it we are gathering and how it is influencing every part of the school day. That being said, I don't like the idea of the legislature telling me as a teacher certain data is no longer accessible because "they say so".

Later in Sen. Farrow's report, there are his own personal recommendations to be taken up at the next meeting and it includes this:
6. Direct the Department of Public Instruction to ensure that only the minimally required data is gathered regarding students within Wisconsin and only the minimally required data be sent to the federal government. 
So... we have more legislative action dictating to DPI what education should look like.

2. Biometric student data? Is this REALLY such a big issue?! Good lord...

3.  STEM addendum to the high school standards. Okay, I can KINDA see this, but really, what about that whole well rounded education concept? It's not terrible, but I don't think it really belongs in a discussion about the Common Core.

4. Does the legislature really need to reaffirm something that every single school district in Wisconsin already very fully understands? All this does is serve as propaganda to people who want something to hang their hat on when talking about "local control" but not really advocating for it.

5. Here is 5 again:
5. The legislature should establish a statutory process for the continued review and adoption of model academic standards that reasserts legislative control and includes substantial public input. That process should include review and consideration of Wisconsin’s prior revision attempts, incorporating the mathematic and English language arts standards that were revised and completed in 2009. Additionally, the process should begin with a review of mathematics and English language arts standards. 
HELLO Constitutional crisis!!!

The legislature should establish a statutory process for adoption of academic standards?! That means, in lay mans terms, that the legislature should essentially adopt the educational standards used in Wisconsin. Aside from requiring a change in the Wisconsin Constitution, it also wholly politicizes the educational content taught in Wisconsin. Wave bye-bye to the "Next Generation Science Standards" ever being adopted, and myself as a social studies, I'm mortified at what the current crop of conservative Neo-Stalwarts in the Assembly would want me to teach.

This part of the recommendations scare me, and I'm sure will be part of a legislative proposal this spring. Can't wait to have my voice be heard as part of the "substantial public input" that likely will be brushed aside.

7. Urging DPI to not adopt standards but leave it up to local school boards? HUH?! Isn't that pretty much exactly the opposite of what was just said in number 6? Ohhhhh, I understand... they don't want people at DPI who actually are involved with education, have educational backgrounds, and hold degrees in educational studies to make decisions and solicit input on education in Wisconsin.

8. Wisconsin is best served making Wisconsin based standards? Because that worked sooooooo well for every state before Common Core....

Gahhhh..... I want to scream.

So, what was the reaction to all of this?

The School Administrators Alliance had their own views, which can be found HERE. 
Their message in a nutshell is this: 1) School administrators and instructional staff have been working hard to implement the CCSS for the past 2-3 years; 2) School districts have expended significant time, energy and money to train staff and align curriculum with the CCSS. Why? Because the Common Core Standards are much better than Wisconsin’s current model academic standards and because we believe that all the work to implement the CCSS will ultimately lead to higher student achievement and a better educational experience for all the children we serve. 
Plus, there's legislative reaction. Assembly Chair Robin Vos' can be found HERE, but Scott Bauer of the AP had this tweet which summed it up: 
Except, local school districts are already able to have their own standards, as was noted above.

Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope was a little more blunt with Mr. Bauer:

So now... we wait for the inevitable legislation that will come.

Oh happy day. Remind me again why people aren't choosing education as a major in college?

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