Submission by Karen Schroeder of Advocates for Academic Freedom
The state of Wisconsin has held three out of four public hearings on Common Core Standards. State Superintendent Tony Evers must be feeling the heat because he offered legislators a veiled threat that any rejection of Common Core Standards may be taken to the Supreme Court. This threat outrages citizens across the state who are trying to protect their right to exercise local control of schools.
Kim Simac, Wisconsin State Director for Concerned Women for America, Chairperson for Northwoods Patriots, and one of the major community organizers in northern Wisconsin, stated, “Superintendent Evers’ threat to jump directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court should any legislation or decision be made to opt out of CCSS exposes his lack of confidence in the standards themselves. Those supporters of CCSS should have an arsenal of evidence that proves excellence and superiority in the product. Obviously they do not.”
Wisconsinites opposed to Common Core will not allow Superintendent Evers to blame conservative legislators for the tax dollars to be wasted on any legal action intended to undermine Wisconsin’s statute regarding local control of schools or intended to render irrelevant the concerns expressed by citizens. Sondra Maanum, Chair of the Barron County Republican Party, explained that “our legislators were elected to defend and protect the state constitution and our state laws. If Tony Evers thinks he is going to use our tax dollars to fight us, he better be well prepared for the consequences.”
Superintendent Evers is apparently realizing that his claim that it would take years to write and implement alternative standards has been effectively refuted by experts who have been testifying against Common Core. Alan Scholl, Executive Director and Vice President of American Opinion Foundation, invited citizens and organizations like Advocates for Academic Freedom to bring Dr. Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram among others to testify. Both were members of the Common Core Validation Committee and both refused to sign off on the standards that they believed would not adequately prepare students for college.
“Evers’ threat is predicated on the platform of using the federal government, through the Supreme Court, to force upon a state and its people, a federal mandate in education. This is as totalitarian a prospect as any yet suggested,” stated Mr. Scholl. Scholl, Maanum, and Simac represent many Wisconsinites who believe that the veiled threat made by Superintendent Evers is a blatant abuse of federal power by a state official. Scholl explained that using federal power to force a curriculum that is formulated and shaped precisely to any forced standard leading to dictated outcomes is an intolerable challenge to individual liberty and the sovereignty of states.
It is essential that those who oppose Common Core be willing to provide solutions, to promote funding for those solutions, and to support legislators who are willing to represent what is best for the children of Wisconsin. The solutions most often recommended by citizens include immediate implementation of the standards used in Massachusetts before they adopted Common Core. Massachusetts students had excelled in math, science, English, and reading for years before they adopted Common Core Standards.
“Grassroots will be certain to work hard for legislators who recognize the perilous path Common Core Standards present” promised Kim Simac. “I know I will be spending my efforts engaging hard-working activists who will pound the doors and give 100% for legislators who will stand up to support Wisconsin state rights.”
As President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, I have traveled the state discussing Common Core, our focus has been upon solutions and funding for those solutions. Without exception, my audiences have expressed a willingness to support spending some of our state surplus to purchase math text books that are not aligned with Common Core, sets of grammar books for each English classroom, and reading materials that focus upon decoding skills. These audiences are insulted and angered by the thought of using their tax dollars and the legal system to circumvent local control of schools and to silence the public.
According to Sondra Maanum, “Wisconsinites hope Governor Walker and the legislature will put in place some oversight to prevent the DPI from circumventing local control of schools in the future.”
Wisconsinites are defending their right to control local schools. They have witnessed the challenging fight to prevent federal overreach when a powerful state department of education intervenes. Citizens do not want precedence established that would undermine state statutes which guarantee local control of schools.
Superintendent Evers is abusing his power and ignoring state statutes.