PIERRE, S.D. – Common Core will receive a good deal of scrutiny when South Dakota lawmakers begin the new legislative session on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports that lawmakers will be presented with a variety of bills that seek to phase out or place strict limits on Common Core – the new set of nationalized math and English learning standards that have been adopted by some 45 states.
Republican state Rep. Jim Bolin is leading the charge against Common Core. Bolin, a retired teacher, has been a critic of the “one-size-fits-all” standards since they were adopted by the South Dakota Board of Education in 2010.
Bolin is encouraged by the growing opposition to Common Core, and says he has “a few more allies” in this legislative session than in previous ones.
“I never dreamed it would gain this much traction,” Bolin told AberdeenNews.com. “There’s a lot of energy behind this. There really is. It’s very organic. It’s really coming from the grassroots. It ranges from skepticism to downright opposition. It’s really kind of a populist thing.”
Bolin believes Common Core threatens the long-held American principle of locally controlled schools, and told AberdeenNews.com that the mounting opposition is driven, in part, by a sense that ordinary Americans are “losing control of every aspect of life.”
One of Bolin’s planned bills would return some control to South Dakota families by allowing parents to opt-out from the Common Core-related tests being developed by Smarter Balanced, a federally funded testing consortium.
Bolin also wants to prevent South Dakota education officials from adopting Common Core-like national standards in other academic subjects – such as science and social studies – and to keep students’ personal information from being shared with the federal government.
Even though Bolin and his fellow anti-Common Core legislators may have public sentiment on their side, they don’t appear to have enough clout in the Republican-controlled Legislature to make any sweeping changes to the learning standards.
According to the AP, Common Core likely has too much support among Senate Republicans and Democrats for a repeal to be considered in that legislative body. Even if that were to happen, it’s believed Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard would veto any repeal bill.
However, Senate Republican Leader Tim Rave indicated to the AP he might be in favor of legislation that protects students’ data from being collected by the federal government and require any future Common Core-like standards receive the approval of state legislators.
“I think the logical thing to do, since many schools have (the new standards) in place, would be to address some of the concerns and just get a handle on it going forward,” Rave said.
Common Core is on track to be fully implemented in South Dakota for the 2014-15 school year.