We all know that promises don’t matter in Washington, DC. We’ve all come to expect betrayal at the federal level. Yet, for North Dakota activists against the Common Core State Standards, the betrayal of state officials on the issue is especially disheartening.
If you will recall, last April at the North Dakota Republican Convention, a strong anti-Common Core sentiment was felt. The impression was so strong that former NDGOP State Chairman Gary Emineth commented coming out of the convention that if nothing else, the message was loud and clear that North Dakota Republicans didn’t want Common Core.
That message was so strong that even the likes of Nicole Poolman (then Lt. Gubernatorial candidate and herself a teacher), our very own Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, and a number of state legislators said Common Core was going bye-bye. And that’s when the lies started.
As has been documented before here on The Minuteman, Superintendent Baesler was found to be blatantly dishonest on this issue before the legislative session even began. It was her that said Common Core was on the way out. It was her that said "new standards" would be written. It was her that said they would be written "by North Dakotans and for North Dakotans". In part, it was her that led the legislature to believe that Common Core was gone.
When Draft 1 of the "new standards" came out, Superintendent Baesler was exposed. It was obvious. In a side by side comparison, these weren’t new standards at all. They were still Common Core. Then when Draft 2 was released in early January, the result was the same.
Opponents of Common Core – who were burned in the 2015 Legislative Session – recognized what they thought was an opportunity. It seemed they had the public support, legislative support, and then Baesler’s horrible track record in their favor to finally rid the state of the Common Core disaster. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
As the House Education Committee hearing on Rep. Ben Koppelman’s (R – District 16) House Bill 1432 progressed, it was obvious that they were buying into the arguments of Baesler and North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta. Two days later, the committee voted unanimously for a DO NOT PASS recommendation.
As the bill came before the House for a vote yesterday, Rep. Koppelman did something fairly unusual as he divided the bill to vote on it in sections. But Rep. Koppelman’s reminders of promises to get out of Common Core, and his evidence that it just wasn’t the case, seemed to fall on deaf ears.
The opposition to HB 1432 was led by Cynthia Schreiber-Beck (R – District 25). And boy did she cook up some doozies. At one point in her comments, she told the legislative body that should the bill pass no future standards could include basic addition such as 2+2, because that standard may be found in Common Core and the bill would prevent future standards from being based on Common Core. This is a great scare tactic, but horribly dishonest and inaccurate. Simple addition standards pre-dated Common Core (something she inadvertently admitted to in another part of her floor speech), therefore how could one claim such a standard would be based off of Common Core?
Another political move perpetrated by Rep. Schreiber-Beck was her emphasis on the Fiscal Note attached by the Department of Public Instruction. The note totaled over $200 million. There’s two interesting facts about the Fiscal Note.
First, that of the $200 million there was over $180 million of it that is federal funding. For a department that loves to talk about local control, it sure seems they’re more beholden to the idea of federal dollars than local control.
Second, the Fiscal Note was prepared by Greg Gallagher of the Department of Public Instruction. He is also the former Chair of the Smarter Balanced Executive Committee. Which is the same testing consortium that Superintendent Baesler signed us out of with an effective date of June 30, 2017, but is allowing to be part of the bidding process for the standards going forward. Gallagher is far from an unbiased source to be providing a Fiscal Note for such a bill.
There’s a lot more that occurred during the floor debate, but I’ll leave the video for you to watch. Following the debate, the House voted down the division and then the remainder of the bill. In doing so, they managed to not only keep the Common Core State Standards, but a good number of them broke their promises to the people of North Dakota and sided with a lying Superintendent of Public Instruction in the process. All of which is downright despicable.