UPDATE: Controversial Common Core bill appears dead in Senate, - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Controversial Common Core bill appears dead in Senate, despite marathon public hearing

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Hundreds of people turned out at the State Capitol Thursday to testify on a controversial bill that would change how academic standards are set for Wisconsin public schools.

School administrators say that responsibility should stay with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), while the bill's authors say legislators should have some oversight.

The Republican authors of Senate Bill 619 made it clear the bill exists because of the way DPI adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010.  Those standards were developed through the National Governor's Association and adopted by 45 states.

"Two of biggest concerns that we had were the lack of public and legislative oversight into the standards adoption and the lack of any direct involvement by Wisconsinites," said Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), one of the lead authors of SB 619.

The bill would not abolish CCSS directly, but would set up a 15-member board that could.   The Model Academic Standards Board would be comprised of five people from DPI, along with appointees selected by the governor and legislative leaders.

"Let me be perfectly clear, legislators will not write the standards," said Sen. Vukmir.  "The standards will be clearly written by the Model Academic Standards Board and reviewed by both DPI and JCRAR (Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules).

But dozens of school district superintendents that packed the hearing room say they are most troubled exactly because of the way that review process works, allowing JCRAR to have the final say on those standards.

"We don't need the legislature to meddle in issues that are best addressed at the local level," testified Jennifer Cheatham, Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Several business leaders also turned out against the bill, saying that keeping CCSS is important to attracting young professionals with school-aged children who are considering moving to Wisconsin for jobs.

"If we go our own separate way, that's gonna just add complexity to that decision and we're very concerned about that," said Jeff Williams, President of Lucigen Corp., a biotech firm in Middleton.

But some parents told the Senate Education Committee that CCSS is not working for their kids and they want it thrown out.

"We turn back now because this is the only chance we have to turn back," said Tracy Rath, parent to a nine year-old in the Pewaukee School District.

School districts across the state have spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours implementing CCSS since 2010 and will start testing on the standards next year.

Senate Education Chair Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) doesn't support the bill and says there are not enough votes in the full Senate to get it passed.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Testimony is underway on a Senate bill that would allow the legislature to establish a 15 member board to set academic standards for Wisconsin public schools.

The authors of SB 619 testified to the Senate Committee on Education Thursday morning that the bill would allow Wisconsin to abolish the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) adopted by DPI in 2010 and set-up state specific standards.

Officials with the Department of Public Instruction joined school administrators from across the state in opposing the bill, which they say would disrupt the progress that's been made through Common Core and allow legislators have the final say on any new standards going forward.

45 states have adopted and established CCSS to have consistent academic standards across the United States.

Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) co-authored the bill and immediately chastised Senate Education Chair Luther Olsen for telling a reporter the bill was dead on arrival in his committee.  Sen. Olsen claims he never said that.

The hearing is expected to continue well into the night.


MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin school district superintendents are preparing to testify against a bill that would give Legislature power to approve and write academic standards.

Thursday, the Senate's Education Committee will have a hearing about the measure.

The Republican-sponsored bill would create a new state board for writing model academic standards.  Those could replace the Common Core reading and math standards Wisconsin adopted in 2010.  Schools have been working to implement since then.

The School Administrators Alliance opposes the bill, saying it will politicize the process of writing standards.

Governor Scott Walker supports the change, saying new standards could be more rigorous and state-specific than the Common Core standards.

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