Wisconsin will keep Common Core

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But lawmakers may strengthen student privacy rules

MADISON, Wis. – Common Core critics in Wisconsin likely won’t see a full repeal of the new math and English learning standards, and will have to settle instead for tougher privacy controls of student information and a state review of the standards’ effect on student learning every seven years.

WisconsinThat was the takeaway from a Tuesday meeting of the Assembly study committee, which has held a series of public hearings about Common Core across the state over the past several months, the Associated Pressreports.

The committee’s official recommendations for handling Common Core won’t be announced until sometime next month when it releases its final report.

If the committee recommends state lawmakers change the standards themselves, State Superintendent Tony Evers has promised to take the matter to court. Evers believes only the Department of Public Instruction – not the Legislature – has the legal authority to set the state’s academic standards, reports the AP. (The state superintendent controls the DPI.)

Evers’ assertion of power won’t end that debate, however.

Also on Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Dean Knudson released a Legislative Council memo that asserts Wisconsin school districts have the authority “to adopt their own academic standards.”

“As has been the case since 1998, the state has model academic standards that school districts can use as a barometer,” Knudson said in a press release.

“It is up to each and every district to determine what is best for them, regardless of what DPI says,” he added. “We need to be able to decide the content of our standards and testing without federal interference.”

Knudson also released a Legislative Council memo that confirms the Common Core initiative does not “require or authorize” the collection of students’ biometric data – through blood pressure cuffs, pressure sensors or posture chairs – “as part of instruction or assessment of pupils or to collect student data.”

The memo continues: “School districts are not specifically authorized to use blood pressure cuffs or posture chairs unless indicated by a medical or therapeutic need. … However, there is no specific prohibition on these practices.”

“While some of the more eye-opening assertions about the data collections under Common Core have been put to rest, we should still take a hard look at existing privacy protections and strengthen them,” Knudson said in the release.

State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, the Republican lawmaker who chaired the Assembly study committee, cautioned that Common Core threatens to pervert the nation’s long-standing tradition of locally controlled schools.

“They cease to be state standards when pretty much every state in the country is doing the same thing,” Thiesfeldt said, according to WUWM News. “That is not a plan that’s reflective of what the Founding Fathers had. They wanted state laboratories for a variety of things and education was one of them.

“National government was created to be an agent of the states; instead the states have become agents of the national government, kind of looking to D.C. as the federal master.”

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