Standards for Wisconsin's classrooms might see drastic changes in the coming years.
Wisconsin lawmakers are looking at a bill that would essentially replace the set of classroom standards that schools use today, the Common Core standards. Those are essentially a set of requirements that guide what schools teach their kids. The standards were created by the National Governor's Association, along with education groups, and in the past few years 45 states have implemented them. Wisconsin started using Common Core back in 2010 - and now, four years later, legislators are looking to replace them.
Senate Bill 619 looks to create a new Model Academic Standards Board, comprising 15 members appointed by the governor and Department of Instruction, that would decide new standards for schools to follow. This would essentially replace the current Common Core standards.
"Four years in, teachers are really starting to become a little more accustomed to the Common Core," said Rob Tyvoll, academic programs supervisor for La Crosse School District. "To change horses now is probably going to be a bit of an unwelcome journey."
The bill's language says 10 of the board's 15 members would be chosen by the governor and Legislature. According to State Superintendent Tony Evers, that brings the pull of politics into the picture.
"This bill is craziness," Evers said in a statement. "Our children's education will be subject to the whipsaw of elections every two years when one party or another is in power."
"If we take these whole steps of the standards and throw them out without really evaluating the content of those standards and having a non-partisan group do that work, we may be making a mistake," he said.
Bill Feehan, the chair for La Crosse County's Republican Party, disagreed and said politics is always a part of the equation, no matter who is in the governor's seat. He said the main goal of the bill is to bring education back into the hands of local government.
"We have our own unique culture, and the more opportunities we give local school boards and the state of Wisconsin to have a say in what that curriculum is, the better off we're going to be," Feehan said.
If the bill passes, Common Core would be replaced by the 2016-17 school year. The measure is currently in the Committee on Education.