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Bill To Evaluate Common Core Moves Forward

January 21, 2014, 5:30 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Bill To Evaluate Common Core Moves Forward

Standards that affect students across South Dakota could have state lawmakers studying as well.

The Senate Education Committee passed a bill Tuesday designed to evaluate the standards. It still needs to clear other hurdles before becoming law.  

If it becomes law, the bill would set up a group to evaluate the Common Core Standards' substance and cost.   The group's members would compare their Common Core findings with other options.

Supporters of the idea, including Sen. Ernie Otten (R-Tea), say the bill will provide data and facts people can use to weigh the pros and cons of the Common Core. Otten says it should help remedy another problem he's observed- Common Core supporters and opponents in the state talking at each other rather than with each other.

"We have to find a way in which we can actually communicate with one another, talk to one another and find something we can anchor ourselves around and that's data," Otten said.

Some fear the study's results would be biased in favor of Common Core, noting Governor Dennis Daugaard would appoint several members. Daugaard has shown support for the standards. Sen. Phil Jensen (R-Rapid City) tried unsuccessfully to pass an amendment requiring the same number of opponents and supporters in the group.

"I just feel the people would have an opportunity to be represented more fairly if we pass this amendment," Jensen said.

"I think that people should be professional enough to make a decision based upon what they learned rather than what their opinion was before they walked in there," Sen. Bruce Rampelberg (R-Rapid City) said.

Opponents also say forming the council and funding it would be a waste of time and resources because state leaders adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010 and the committee wouldn't report its findings until 2015.

"This should have been done a couple years prior to implementation. Unfortunately, it didn't happen," Mark Chase of Sioux Falls said.

"I don't think this is necessary and it is perhaps a waste of money. But I trust Sen. Otten and I trust that he thinks this is a good way to move forward as a way to find a solution with the controversy that has been created," Sen. Chuck Welke (R-Warner) said.

Senators on the State Affairs Committee will hear arguments for and against another bill related to Common Core Wednesday. That bill would require the state to have a waiting period before adopting any new standards to allow time for public input

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