South Dakota Common Core Rollback Fails

Published April 5, 2013

South Dakota state Rep. Jim Bolin, a retired teacher, introduced two bills to limit Common Core national education standards. Both failed by narrow votes in March.

Bolin sees the standards, which were adopted by South Dakota’s board of education in 2010, as “an attack on the local authority of people to run their own schools.”

Common Core sets out what K-12 students must know in each grade in math and English. Forty-five states have adopted it, and national tests will roll out in 2014.

Two Attempts Failed
Bolin’s proposals aimed to accomplish two purposes. The first, which died 8-7 in the House education committee, would have allowed private schools to opt out of the Common Core without losing their state accreditation.

“Why are private schools not exempted from this major educational measure that is controversial, expensive, and shows no signs that it will work?” asked Bolin. “Private schools should not have to follow these national standards to maintain their accreditation.”

The second bill would have required the state board of education to receive approval from the legislature before adopting any further Common Core standards. Although this proposal passed the House 36-32, the Senate Education Committee voted it down 6-1. 

Establishment Opposition
Bolin says his proposals were “heavily opposed by the [state] department of education and the current administration.” That, and because the standards are already in place, is likely why Bolin’s proposals failed, said Ron Williamson, president of the Great Plains Policy Institute.

In 2010 the South Dakota Department of Education held a hearing on the standards, at which education administrators strongly supported them and only one citizen spoke against them, said Mary Stadick Smith, a department spokeswoman. 

“The states are faced with a problem in that education is best determined at the local level,” Williamson said. “However, at the same time, the state and local education boards are faced with federal mandates to keep Common Core standards.”

For example, the Obama administration granted states No Child Left Behind waivers—allowing them to ignore the “adequate yearly progress” requirements—but only if they adopt “standards that are common to a significant number of states,” a definition only Common Core fits.  Such involvement by the federal government has caused much of the concern over the standards. 

Image by Jeremiah Murphy.