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Berginski: House Common Core vote the right call

By Staff | Feb 13, 2015

The ND House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening to strike down a bill that would’ve not only killed reviled education standards, but also would’ve cut the state off from necessary federal funding and opened itself up for further problems. If anything, the House made the right call on this one.

HB 1461, the bill in question, would’ve eliminated Common Core math and english standards from teachers’ curricula and forced the creation of a committee of parents, teachers, business representatives, state officials and government staff to create new standards in their place. Common Core does have its problems, but then again, what system doesn’t? (In fact, just the other day, my mom and I were talking about the Common Core way to solve 3 – 2, which seems way too long and complicated for something that equals 1.) But the same kind of people – parents, teachers, state government officials – bill proponents wanted to create new sets of standards were the ones who created the standards they reviled in the first place.

The committee, once formed, would’ve then had to elect a leader/spokesperson and could spend up to $750,000 just for that purpose. Where would that money be coming from? Hmm, I wonder, could it be TAXES!?!? (Read that last part like the “Church Lady” from the old Saturday Night Live sketch for the full effect.)

Also, the committee wouldn’t have standards ready for approval until the 2017 legislative session. In the interim, school districts would have to come up with their own academic standards. Does that mean the school districts would have to form a committee to come up with standards? Or do they have to resort to systems that worked in the past but may not work now? How much would it cost to implement? I get that we North Dakotans are a hearty, tough, self-sufficient breed, but there are times when objective thinking is needed and deciding how to best educate our youth is one of those times.

Another part of the bill would’ve forced North Dakota to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium which compares North Dakota’s academic performance among 17 other states and one Canadian province. The state would’ve had to spend $350,000 just to get out of it, and that would’ve been the least of its problems. The state could’ve lost $3.4 million in Title VI funds for rural schools and $100,000 in Title I funds. The state could’ve also potentially been a party to civil rights investigations, or even lawsuits, by failing to provide equal instruction to students based on gender, income, race and even special needs (which is where Title VI and Title I come into play). Our state may have millions locked away, but no amount of money is worth trifling with the feds, or with parents alleging their children are not afforded the same education as their peers.

Good call, legislature, good call.

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