Opponents of using the national Common Core standards for math and English in South Dakota schools met defeat Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.
House members voted 35-31 against a resolution that sought to shut down the new system that went into effect for the current school year.
“The pathway of Common Core is the road for the federalization of schools in our country,” said Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton. He sponsored the resolution.
Bolin said South Dakota educators are capable of writing their own standards. That was the case previously when the Dakota STEP achievement tests were used for assessing students’ proficiency.
Common Core is the replacement for those standards in math and English-language arts. The national Smarter Balanced assessment tests now will be used rather than Dakota STEP.
“We’re not setting content. That’s local control,” Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City, said in response to Bolin.
Conzet said there has been “a grotesque amount of misinformation and scare tactics” circulating.
One-third of anti-Common Core votes came from Sioux Falls-area legislators Wednesday.
“I can assure you, overwhelmingly, parents are opposed to these new standards,” Rep. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls, said.
Phone calls, letters, e-mail and conversations ran “two, three, four to one” against Common Core, according to Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka. He voted for the resolution.
“We’re re-inventing the wheel,” Hoffman said. “Our teachers are just lost in a sea of regulatory gobbledygook.”
The state Board of Education decided in November 2010 to switch to Common Core. The National Governors Association and the chief school officers association established the new standards.
Bolin said those groups weren’t the real force behind the standards. He said it was education central planners.
His resolution called for the state board to develop a plan by mid-2017 to replace Common Core.
It also said the board shouldn’t adopt any additional Common Core standards in other subjects or any other national standards.
The resolution, HCR 1008, didn’t have any binding authority but would have stood as a statement of legislative intent.
A resolution doesn’t require any action by the governor and therefore couldn’t be vetoed if it had passed in both the House and the Senate.
The 53-minute debate was the longest and fiercest so far in the 2014 legislative session.
Approximately three dozen citizens, many of them wearing red shirts to show their opposition to Common Core, watched from the House gallery.
Rep. Mike Stevens, R-Yankton, said national standards make sense in a mobile and global society.
He said he attended three different grade schools, two different middle schools and two different high schools as his family moved every three years because of his father’s railroad job.
Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle, spoke against Common Core. She said it’s the latest in a string of education efforts from the national level that included Goals 2000 and No Child Left Behind.
“This body (the House) needs to take a stand,” May said.