Did Walker Really Stop Common Core in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

On paper, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been a critic of the Common Core State Standards since 2013, when he issued an order allowing school districts to opt out of the standards.  In an April interview with Caffeinated Thoughts and occasional The Pulse contributor Shane Vander Hart, he went into the details of his action:

There is no law that mandates it. What it does, the language we put in explicitly says school districts don’t have to, and that the language in there…there is not a law that says they have to do Common Core. There is a law that says they have to do standards, and then there is a law … or there is money in the budget for Smarter Balanced. We got rid of that, so that is effectively a repeal.

However, as Breitbart reported:

If one visits the website of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the following paragraph appears:

“In June, 2010, Wisconsin adopted the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts. Wisconsin also adopted Standards for Literacy in All Subjects. These standards provide the framework for a Wisconsin Student Assessment System beginning in 2014-15.”

The question activists opposed to the Common Core standards are asking is: if the standards are part of the framework for Wisconsin’s assessments, how can Walker say he has “effectively repealed” Common Core?

Here is the central issue: it is disingenuous to say that districts and schools have the freedom to choose standards and curriculum but to then require them to use a standardized tests aligned to the Common Core.  As long as Wisconsin’s assessment system is tied to the federally pushed standards, districts and schools will have no real choice but to teach Common Core.

No matter how Walker tries to describe it, Wisconsin is still stuck on the Common Core Standards.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan knows that.  President Obama knows that.  And the parents and teachers in Wisconsin know that.

Walker’s claims to the contrary are a slap in the face to the mothers, fathers and other citizens across the country who are fighting to get rid of Common Core and advocating for their state and local governments to reclaim decision-making.  It leaves the impression that, if elected, he will do nothing to rein in the federal government.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.