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Educators, lawmakers discuss bill that would change education standards

Published On: Mar 06 2014 06:59:53 PM CST   Updated On: Mar 07 2014 08:51:22 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. -

Educators from around the state packed a hearing room at the Capitol to discuss a bill that would change education standards in Wisconsin.

Senate Bill 619 would give lawmakers the power over academic standards through a 15-member board. It would likely mean a change to Common Core Standards, which were adopted four years ago.

Hundreds packed the hearing room and overflow rooms, where school leaders, including Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, defended Common Core.

She said lawmakers shouldn’t meddle with the current standards.

“We need stability to be successful. If passed, both our teachers and students would be taking a huge step backwards,” Cheatham said. “The ultimate tragedy of this bill is that it distracts from our crucial day-to-day sustained focus on teacher and learning, which is the key to any urban district success.”

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, is the bill’s chief sponsor and continues to cite trouble with Common Core being reported in other districts.

“The states that have gone further down the path than we have, Sen. Lehman, like New York, they’ve implemented smarter balance. They’re dealing with the test issues and they’re saying, ‘Whoa, this is not working,’” Vukmir said. “So, do we as a state and as policymakers, we are right at the precipice of making an important decision. Are we going to go over the cliff?”

Vukmir said she’s not giving up, but for now the bill appears a handful of votes shy of the 17 needed to pass the Senate.

The governor said he wants standards higher than Common Core. State Superintendent Tony Evers, like many educators at the Capitol Thursday, opposes the bill.

The state has already spent more than $25 million to implement Common Core.

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