UPDATE #2: 8:00pm 2/20/14. I stand corrected. Scott Walker does not just "support" SB 619/AB 617. Scott Walker's office is responsible for the bill. Thanks to Wisconsin Soapbox (THE blog to watch) for the update.
UPDATE #1: 3:30pm 2/20/14: This just in from DPI...
USE THIS TIME WISELY by joining parents, advocates, educators and administrators in speaking up and out in opposition to this bill. See below for details.There has been a delay on the vote of AB617/SB619, which gives us all a few days to read more about what is happening in the legislature and with the governor.Information is on the Department of Public Instruction newsroom website http://news.dpi.wi.gov/files/eis/pdf/dpinr2014_28.pdf, and if you haven’t accessed state superintendent’s video message on the Common Core State Standards, that can be found at http://youtu.be/Z7fNt5HocvY.Some news coverage:· Eau Claire Leader-Telegram: http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/daily_updates/article_60e0358c-9a4b-11e3-a1f5-0019bb2963f4.html· Green Bay Press Gazette: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/viewart/20140220/GPG0101/302200268/Assembly-panel-postpones-votes-Common-Core-school-accountability-bills· Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/state-superintendent-warns-bill-could-undo-common-core-standards-b99209125z1-246181111.html
As if the education scene in Wisconsin couldn't get crazy enough, the brilliant minds who brought you the dog-and-pony show that was our Common Core State Standards hearings are proposing NEW legislation (AB 617) that would remove curriculum-making authority from the Department of Public Instruction and grant it to a tiny "panel" of "experts" appointed by (wait for it....) the governor and top legislators. Oh, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction gets to be on the committee and appoint a few people, too. But not a majority's worth or anything.
It distracts us from the REAL concerns with public education and undermines years of work and already-implemented curriculum that local districts have put into place through the democratic process by locally elected boards.
And they're voting on it TODAY. Without a public hearing.
Raise some noise, Wisconsin. Our schools are worth fighting for.
Here's the letter I sent this morning. Apologies for typos as I didn't have much time and am rushing to work, but feel free to copy/paste/do as you like and get in one of your own. Be sure to include your name, address, and phone when you send in your letter.
Here's who you need to write to (the Assembly Education Committee; Jagler and Kestell are the chairs). Be sure to cc Gov. Walker (who has already said he supports the bill) and your own reps:
Dear Assembly Education Committee members,
I am writing in concern about the fast-tracked bill AB 617 which would shift curriculum-writing authority to an appointed panel and would impact the years of work, investment, and local decision-making that has gone into our implement of the Common Core State Standards in Wisconsin.
As a concerned parent, I am growing increasingly frustrated with fast-tracked legislation that continues to take power away from the education professionals DPI and local communities and consolidate power and decision-making authority at the state level. This particular bill is especially outrageous, and would put the most important decisions about what our kids our learning in the hands of a very small group of political appointees. This is NOT a democratic process, and it violates my right to have local input into these decisions through my school board, a practice which I regularly engage in actively by attending these meetings and having a say in what is being taught at that level. This is the Wisconsin tradition, and it is a tradition that has not been threatened by Common Core.Whatever concerns one might have about CCSS, the fact remains that curriculum - including textbooks and course plans - are determined through a local, democratic process involving public input and public hearing at the local school board level. Shifting this decision-making process to the state-appointed panel is a dangerous move that undermines local authority.
I followed closely the Common Core hearings that were held at the Capitol and around the state. What I heard was an overwhelming majority of education professionals confirm that these standards allow them both the rigor and the autonomy they need to provide the best education they can to their districts. The suggestions that have been made that "we can do better" than CCSS have not been sufficiently demonstrated, nor have the concerns many people have with the CCSS been sufficiently proven. Many who spoke against these standards had ties to special interest groups and little experience in the classroom.
Further, if this legislation is to be taken seriously, it is an absolute affront to reason and responsible stewardship that 2 of the positions on the panel would be held by members of the voucher school community (parents or educators/administrators) who are not even held accountable to this standards system and whose input would be irrelevant at best. It is unfathomable and highly unethical that one would even consider granting this special interest group a seat at this table.
I cannot attend this rushed session and strongly object to the the way this bill is being rushed through and voted on without allowing time for public hearing. This issue is HUGE to me as a parent and higher education professional, and deserves time for the public to research and participate on this issue.
I oppose AB 617 and strongly recommend all who care about public education and equitable learning for all students in Wisconsin as provided by the state constitution vote against it.
Heather DuBois Bourenane