Kill the bill that would let politicians muck around with Common Core standards, says education dean

Pat Schneider

Tim Slekar, the dean of education at Edgewood College and outspoken critic of corporate-driven education “reform,” couldn’t read another word about Wisconsin GOP legislators’ plan to rewrite the state’s educational standards without saying something about it.

“Someone has to say it: Any bill that would allow politicians the ability to directly and/or indirectly write learning standards must be killed!” Slekar posted Friday on the At the Chalk Face blog.

Slekar was writing about a bill sponsored by Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, that would create a politically appointed board to write state-specific educational standards to replace the national Common Core standards that are drawing criticism from conservatives and progressives alike. The proposal has been swept up in political maneuvering and made headlines again when gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said it would politicize education.

Too late, Slekar said in an interview. Politicians are talking about educational standards instead of the people most impacted by them.

“Politicians have proven themselves over the last 30 years to be wholly unqualified to make even remotely positive decisions about public education policy. In fact I propose a bill that would place an indefinite moratorium on politicians’ ability to even breathe too closely around public schools,” he wrote.

“Are we clear about what I just said? Kill the Bill! Got it? K-I-L-L the Bill!”


Related: NCTQ Sues University of Wisconsin education schools over course syllabi and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.

The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.

This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.

Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.

And, MTEL arrives in Wisconsin via the Legislature and Governor, not the ed schools.

Finally, Madison’s long term disastrous reading scores.