A collection of both conservative and liberal activists opposed to Common Core education standards released an open letter Monday accusing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker of “playing games” with the issue by pretending to repeal the standards while in fact doing nothing of the sort.
Scott Walker supported Common Core several years ago, but in 2014 he completely changed course, saying he opposed Common Core and wanted the legislature to repeal it. Still, a lack of direct action made some question his sincerity. In April, during an interview with radio host Glenn Beck, Walker was asked to clarify his position, and he said he “absolutely” wanted a total repeal of Common Core and was seeking it in his new budget. (RELATED: Two More Republican Governors Turning Against Common Core)
Now, the parents, teachers, and other low-level activists driving the anti-Common Core effort say Walker has betrayed them by failing to keep his promise. Walker, they say, is posturing as anti-Common Core for a national political audience while failing to actually deliver the goods.
“Contrary to claims you stand against the Common Core standards, you are effectively entrenching those standards in Wisconsin via Common Core-aligned, high-stakes assessments,” the letter, released Monday, argues.
The letter is signed by 58 different grassroots anti-Common Core activists, including numerous local Tea Party organizations, several Eagle Forum outlets, and the chairmen of three county-level Republican parties.
Walker claims that his budget proposal (still being debated by Wisconsin’s legislature) takes care of Common Core, by clarifying that school standards in Wisconsin may be freely chosen by each school district, regardless of what the state’s Department of Public Instruction has endorsed. His proposed budget would also pull Wisconsin out of the Smarter Balanced testing consortium, a group of 21 states collaborating to produce similar Common Core-aligned tests.
That isn’t enough to satisfy activists, though.
“Despite the defunding of [Smarter Balanced], nothing in the budget language prohibits the selection or implementation of another Common Core-aligned assessment,” the letter says. “Nor does it propose any fiscal plan for the creation or adoption of non-Common Core standards.”
Since the new “Badger Exam” Walker plans to create will also be Common Core-aligned, they say, schools will be forced to continue using the Core, whether they really want to or not. To activists, Walker is engaging in yet another case of Common Core rebranding, in which superficial changes are made while the guts of the Core stay in place. Activists have made similar complaints about Common Core replacements in South Carolina and Indiana, among other states. (RELATED: Common Core Is Dead In SC … Or Is It?)
“Please tell us, then, Governor Walker, how you can say you are doing anything to rid this state of the false reform initiative that is Common Core?” They ask. “Please share with us how you can say, as you did to a national radio audience, that you have proposed repealing Common Core in your budget?”
“We’re tired, Governor Walker,” the letter continues. “We’re tired of excuses and half-truths. We’re tired of misleading and hollow rhetoric that repeatedly amounts to nothing more than political loopholes and broken promises. And most of all we’re tired of watching while the education of the children of Wisconsin takes a backseat.”
The letter ends by suggesting that Walker take more concrete steps such as pushing to adopt completely new standards, abolishing the use of any assessments tied to the Core, and reducing the state’s coercive power in education more generally so that local districts would feel less imposed-upon.
When contacted by The Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the letter, Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick released a statement largely reiterating Walker’s past claims that his policy shifts represent a genuine repeal.
“The Governor’s budget proposal will set Wisconsin-based standards and assessments, and it ensures no school district in the state is required to use the Common Core standards,” Patrick’s statement said. “This gives local school districts the flexibility to choose the test that best meets the needs of their students.” Patrick also noted that Walker’s budget calls for the approval of multiple standardized test options, so that schools won’t be compelled to align their standards with a single examination.
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