Common Core bill appears dead in Wisconsin Senate

The state Senate Education Committee hears from a group of superintendents in Madison on Thu, Mar. 6, 2014.
The state Senate Education Committee hears from a group of superintendents in Madison on Thu, Mar. 6, 2014.

MADISON - Some state lawmakers want to control who creates academic standards for Wisconsin schools.

The change could undo the Common Core standards the state adopted in 2010. The nationally-written Common Core standards list specific English and math benchmarks for every grade level.

The Senate Education Committee met for at least seven hours Thursday. Most of the people testifying opposed the measure.

The Republican-backed bill may have been killed before the hearing even started. Republican leaders said it likely wouldn't pass the Senate unless it's modified.

About 300 people came to the Capitol to take a stand about the bill.

A group of superintendents told lawmakers, they want the Common Core system to stay in place. Wisconsin schools have spent an estimated $25 million to align their curriculum with Common Core.

Aaron Sadoff, from North Fond du Lac Schools, says the bill makes that work meaningless.

"Please stay out of our way and let us implement these great things that have happened," said Sadoff.

The bill would create a 15 member board that could write new academic standards in several subjects. The governor, legislators and state superintendent would recommend who is on the board.

The ultimate authority over the standards would rest with the Legislature.

The bill was written by State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, after a series of hearings around the state last fall.

"Wisconsin standards that would set our students on a path for success," said Vukmir. "I don't believe Common Core does that. We should not work to be common; we should work to be exceptional."

The bill's future is in jeopardy. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was unavailable for an interview, but in an email, he said the bill is "unlikely to pass in its current form."

Any changes to the measure would have to be worked out quickly. The Senate is scheduled to wrap up its session early next month.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration helped write the bill. The governor told FOX 11 earlier this week, he supports it because Wisconsin needs standards more rigorous than Common Core.