Unfortunately, the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of North Dakota, Kirsten Baesler, has a history of being inconsistent. Especially when it comes to the issue of the Common Core State Standards. Yet, Rep. Ben Koppelman (R – District 16) has proposed a bill that will, in effect, give Superintendent Baesler a final opportunity to square her actions with her words.
House Bill 1432 would not only end Common Core in North Dakota, but it would prohibit newly implemented educational standards for Math and English from being based on the Common Core going forward. As an intermediate set of standards, North Dakota would adopt the pre-Common Core Massachusetts state standards. To provide some oversight going forward, the legislature would have to approve all education standards prior to implementation.
In the 2015 legislative session, Superintendent Baesler led an effort to defeat anti-Common Core legislation, and she succeeded. A success that, at the time, she said she was pleased with.
Just a year later, at the 2016 Republican Convention, Baesler had the surprise of her life when a major contingent of anti-Common Core delegates showed up and nearly cost her the party’s Letter of Support for the primary election. In what appeared to be a newfound humility, Baesler and other’s, who had previously supported Common Core, came out of the convention saying it would be on it’s way out. Only days later Baesler appeared on Joel Heitkamp’s “News & Views” radio show and said she had “absolutely not” given up on Common Core.
Just weeks later, Baesler flip-flopped again saying a new set of standards would be created “by North Dakotans, for North Dakotans.” By September, she submitted a letter to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC – the testing arm to Common Core), saying the state would end it’s relationship with them at the end of June 2017. This move was especially intriguing when considering how hard Baesler fought against ending North Dakota’s membership in the consortium in 2015.
As the draft versions of the “new standards” came in at the end of 2016, it was obvious they were not new at all. They are still Common Core. Furthermore, it was reported that though Baesler seemingly ended the state’s membership in the SBAC, they would still be eligible to be part of the bidding process to be the state’s testing firm. Meaning, the state would be in the same place after all the rhetoric as they we were before… stuck with Common Core State Standards and the SBAC.
So, after that bit of background, what does Rep. Koppelman’s HB 1432 do? It does exactly what Superintendent Baesler said she was going to do… it eliminates the Common Core State Standards. And in addition, prohibits them from ever being used as basis for future standards.
So, when HB 1432 is finally up for a committee hearing, do you suppose our Superintendent of Public Instruction will step to the microphone and make an impassioned plea for a Do Pass Recommendation? If she had any integrity, she would. And it is for that reason that I suggest not holding your breath. I certainly won’t be holding mine, for actions do speak louder than words.
As soon as the bill is assigned to committee, we will post an update with date/time of the scheduled committee hearing and give you contact information to the committee members. In the meantime, spread the word and encourage others to let their voices be heard that North Dakota wants to be in charge of it’s own destiny when it comes to matters regarding education. Let’s rid ourselves once and for all of the Common Core State Standards.