Wisconsin school Superintendent Tony Evers has been using the headquarters of the Department of Public Instructions to lobby against Senate Bill 619. Why?
Why would the DPI want to halt legislation that would establish an oversight committee on state educational standards? SB 619 is pretty straightforward. It puts the superintendent in the driver's seat and allows him or her to have control of the proposed Model Academic Standards Board. The bill describes a board that would consist of teachers, parents and superintendents from across the state. At a time when taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for yet another brainstorm coming down the federal pipeline, you would think we could at least be granted a seat at the table in which our investment could be monitored.
So why is Evers in such an uproar at the prospect of a Model Academic Standards Board? In addition, why is the suggestion of developing exceptional Wisconsin standards so out of the question?
Could it be he is apathetic to the breach he caused between school boards and ordinary citizens with his method of implementing Common Core State Standards? Why did Common Core get put into operation without public hearings at the district level? Did Evers advise districts to hold public hearings? Public opinion becomes unnecessary when elected officials can avoid community input.
Perhaps administrators across the state knew they would have a hard time selling their constituents on a federal takeover of education and on relinquishing local control of schools. This is exactly what Common Core will end up doing.
Who misled school administrators to believe they would lose state and federal funds if they did not implement Common Core? This has been proven untrue. Districts can replace Common Core and keep state and federal funds, though dozens of administrators reported this was not their understanding.
The office of DPI can now be labeled as an out-of-control, top-down hierarchy. Evers is trying to rally his subordinates to save a sinking ship that had never been proven seaworthy. While the Wisconsin Constitution grants authority to the DPI, it did not establish a king. One person should never be the sole decision-maker for the future of Wisconsin's children.
Evers worked with great rigor and adopted standards that were unproven. Taxpayers have not been told how much implementation will cost. Many taxpayers have not even heard of Common Core. Was this a prudent decision made for each and every child in Wisconsin by one elected official? Should we be considering just how much power the state school superintendent should be allowed to possess?
When a person of authority rejects opportunities to form a coalition that would improve the quality of education in Wisconsin, I am perplexed.
The job of state school superintendent is to provide Wisconsin's children with the best educational opportunities. The DPI is to assure our teachers that they have the freedom to excel and perform as respected professionals. The DPI is to respect the rights of parents to make educational decisions for their children.
The Wisconsin DPI is not to be a shill for the federal government. Common Core will change Wisconsin education forever. The taxpayer should have been consulted.
If the DPI, administrators, teachers, school board members and parents will be represented on Model Academic Standards Board, and the shared objective is to offer children the finest education available, why is Evers standing in the way? Why is he trying to silence citizens by opposing these bills? Why is Evers unwilling to discuss superior Wisconsin standards for our children?
Kim Simac is a North Woods business owner, author, mother and grandmother.