Effort to repeal education standards failed earlier this year in the state
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has asked the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a bill next year to repeal the controversial Common Core educational standards. Walker issued a one-line statement late Thursday that also said the Common Core curriculum should be replaced by standards “set by people in Wisconsin.”
Walker’s one-sentence statement was issued late Thursday, hours after Sens. Leah Vukmir, R- Wauwatosa, and Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, issued a joint statement calling for a delay in using new standardized tests aligned to Common Core.
Later Thursday, Walker spokesman Jocelyn Webster elaborated on the governor’s comments:
“Following the vote by the Cedarburg School Board yesterday and given the ongoing issues local school districts face with Common Core, Gov. Walker felt it was important to make his position clear. Gov. Walker will work with the Legislature to repeal Common Core and replace it with strong Wisconsin-specific standards developed by Wisconsin teachers, administrators, and parents.”
The standards have become increasingly controversial in Wisconsin, with conservatives repeatedly calling for their repeal. In Cedarburg, the school board voted Wednesday to ask lawmakers to delay testing linked to the standards.
Common Core was a prominent punching bag during last week’s Republican Governors Association meeting. In fact, Walker hinted at his intentions during the meeting.
“My problem with Common Core is, I don’t want people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be,” Walker said Sunday at the governors’ conference.
Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, joins other prominent Republicans who have called for the standards to be spiked. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was first to sign legislation revoking Common Core in April, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed executive orders blocking tests tied to the standards.
On cue, Mary Burke — Walker’s challenger in the gubernatorial election — says the move is just politics.
Joe Zepecki, a spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, questioned Walker’s motives for issuing the call at a time when the Legislature isn’t even in session. Zepecki called the move a “desperate” effort to shore up Walker’s right-wing base.
“He offers zero explanation for why (he) wants to undermine efforts to improve our educational standards from 38th in the country and zero plan for moving forward,” Zepecki said in an email. “Why the sudden change of course after 3 years of DPI (the state Department of Public Instruction) working on implementing these standards?”
But surprisingly, Gov. Walker may face some dissent in his own Republican Party over his request.
Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) issued a statement today in which he stated while there may be support for repealing Common Core, “developing new standards that satisfy everyone’s concerns will be much more difficult.”
The Common Core national standards were adopted by Wisconsin’s state superintendent in 2010 and conservative state lawmakers had tried to repeal the standards this year. The effort to repeal the standards in Wisconsin failed even though Republicans control the Legislature.
Aside from his high profile campaign against public service unions in his first term, reforming education has actually been a priority for Walker separate from the Common Core controversy.