Wisconsin in ‘Holding Pattern’ on Common Core

Published February 6, 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and state lawmakers are working on several bills to limit Common Core national education mandates or slowly replace them—but the state Department of Public Instruction opposes all the reform proposals.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and other legislators are working to replace Common Core and its national tests. The bill she supports would “firmly repeal Common Core in the state, and would get rid of the Smarter Balanced tests,” said Jason Rostan, Vukmir’s spokesman. “And it would create a new State Standards Education Board.”

That board would put together new standards in math and English, then within three years propose standards for science and social studies.

On January 31, Walker “came out and spoke a little strongly, saying that we should create the board and work to get stronger state standards,” Rostan noted. “So we’ve kind of held off on introducing our bill for the time being.” Vukmir hopes to work with Walker and other legislators to see what kind of bill is possible to pass “that still meets our goals,” he said.

“Gov. Walker is working with members of the legislature in both chambers to craft legislation creating a process that would develop Wisconsin-based model academic standards,” said spokesman Tom Evenson. “These standards will be rigorous and tailored to Wisconsin’s history of high achievement and the expectations of parents and educators. The process will allow public input and open discussion.”

Ed Department Opposes
DPI doesn’t like any of the proposals to amend or eliminate Common Core, says DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper.

The department particularly objects to this paragraph in Assembly Bill 616: “No school board may collect biometric data from a pupil, or use any device or mechanism to assess a pupil’s physiological or emotional state, unless the pupil’s parent or guardian consents in writing.”

“Assembly Bill 616 (AB 616) will create dangerous situations for students and staff in our schools and criminalizes actions staff may take to safeguard students,” DPI Legislative Liaison Jennifer Kammerud wrote in a memo to the Assembly Committee on Education.

These actions include monitoring blood pressure, designing and implementing academic and behavioral interventions, screening student health, and conducting special education assessments.

Various Proposals
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) has proposed requiring the state to review its academic standards every six years, which would give Common Core another two. Most school administrators supported a 5-7 year review cycle for standards when responding to a recent legislative survey.

Another bill would require DPI to publish a comprehensive list of all data it collects about students and why, and would ban the agency from sending student data to any federal agency.

DPI objects to these bills, too.

“We’re kind of in a holding pattern, to see how this plays out,” Rostan said.


Image by Gage Skidmore.