Common Core Bills Killed in South Dakota House

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classroomA bill to supplant or replace Common Core education standards with other standards was killed in the South Dakota House Education Committee today.

HB 1243 was presented by the bill’s prime sponsor Rep. Elizabeth May.

Democrat Rep. Kathy Tyler moved to kill the bill and this motion was seconded by Democrat Rep. Ray Ring.

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After some huffing and puffing, Tyler said that she was a former teacher and that she had looked through the Common Core standards and saw nothing wrong with them. She said they have been told that there is pornography in the literature “and all this and all this and all this, and there is nothing in here about that.” Tyler said she thought the discussion of Common Core standards had gone over the edge. She said she felt sorry for the parents whose children came home from school crying, but said this wasn’t because of the standards.

Tyler said the Common Core standards are already there, so we should go ahead and use them.

Rep. Scott Ecklund, a physician, said that stimulus funds and waivers from No Child Left Behind on the heels of the economic downturn led many states to suddenly adopt Common Core standards.

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“You gotta look at the money,” said Ecklund. “Because there’s always money. We all know that up here. Look for the money. And that’s what it was. It was a big old money carrot held out by this administration.”

Ecklund said this bill calls for a “step back” from federalizing education to take a closer look. The curriculum will be driven by the standards because, as he said testimony had revealed earlier, teachers will be teaching to the standards.

May said Common Core standards are an experiment. She said the National Education Association (NEA) had “major concerns” with Common Core, as does the American Federation of Teachers, as well as New York State United Teachers.

Rep. Chip Campbell said Common Core is a top-down initiative and not the way government in our country is supposed to operate.

Rep. Dan Kaiser said it was unwise to lock ourselves into an education standard that we have no way to change at the state level. Kaiser said the South Dakota Department of Education had already testified that changes would have to go up to the U.S. Department of Education for approval. Kaiser said he had asked himself: If the idea is so great, why must it be mandatory?

The bill was killed on an 8-7 vote:

Bartling Yea Campbell Nay Ecklund Nay
Hawks Yea Johns Yea Kaiser Nay
May Nay Ring Yea Schaefer Nay
Stevens Yea Tulson Yea Tyler Yea
Wick Nay Haggar (Jenna) Nay Sly Yea

Prior to considering HB 1243, the Education Committee killed HB 1187 to exempt students whose parents did not want them to take academic assessment tests:

Bartling Yea Campbell Nay Ecklund Nay
Hawks Yea Johns Yea Kaiser Nay
May Nay Ring Yea Schaefer Nay
Stevens Yea Tulson Yea Tyler Yea
Wick Nay Haggar (Jenna) Nay Sly Yea

The bill’s prime sponsor Rep. Jim Bolin pointed out that the window for a parent to opt out their child from the test July 1 and Dec. 31 prior to the test being administered in March, so this would not involve an impulsive decision.

Rep. Jenna Haggar and Kaiser spoke in favor of the bill in the interest of parental involvement. Kaiser also pointed out that the test in question does not factor in to the student’s academic grade. Ecklund agreed with the importance of parental rights and also pointed out that unlike other academic tests, this was a national test that is not used in determining the student’s grade.

Later today, the full House smoked out HB 1187. The “smokeout” is basically an override of a committee decision to kill a bill by the full body.  The smokeout only brings the bill to the floor for consideration; it does not guarantee passage.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee passed HB 1075 to provide public notice before the adoption of common education standards, on a 13-1 vote:

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Bartling Nay Campbell Yea Ecklund Yea
Hawks Yea Johns Yea Kaiser Yea
May Yea Ring Yea Schaefer Yea
Stevens Yea Tulson Yea Tyler Yea
Wick Excused Haggar (Jenna) Yea Sly Yea

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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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