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Turning the Tide on the Common Core: Will Wyoming Policymakers Catch the Wave

More state leaders around the country are beginning to turn the tide on the Common Core Initiative tsunami by raising real concerns about this ill-conceived, untested education program. The latest in that lineup of leaders is North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who recently released a short video outlining his concerns regarding Common Core Standards being implemented in his state. 

Residents of the Tar Heel state  are among those in many states experiencing buyer’s remorse over adoption of the Common Core State Standards. To make matters worse,  most states adopting the standards did so by an unelected Board of Education.  Currently, 16 state legislatures or governors (including Indiana) have taken or are taking some action toward defunding, slowing down or halting the implementation of the Common Core.   

And yet, here in Wyoming, some policymakers remain insolent in their support of Common Core. Take for example a recent exchange between Wyoming State Senator Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) and Wyoming mom Michelle Sabrosky at the Joint Education Committee Meeting in Casper this month. Sabrosky came to the meeting hoping to have some time to share her privacy issue concerns centered on federal and state policies that allow data mining of students’ personal information. 

“I was going to approach this from the data-collection side,” said Sabrosky when asked why she attended the meeting.  “To be respectful to them and their agenda, I only planned on discussing the data collection.”

The topic of data mining had been on the agenda the morning of June 3. Sabrosky said she was hoping the elected representatives would be interested in hearing her take, as both a parent and a voter.

What ensued, however, was a rather hostile exchange led by Senator Rothfuss. Upon passing out a folder of information through which Sabrosky was hoping to walk the committee, she was immediately stopped by Rothfuss, who seemed to take umbrage to her comments. 

“I did mention I was from the group Stop Common Core in Wyoming and Wyoming Freedom in Education,” Sabrosky said, continuing that she felt the mention of these groups was what set off Senator Rothfuss.

Rothfuss repeatedly demanded she explain to him how the Common Core and data mining were connected.  An admittedly flustered Sabrosky tried to stay on point with her presentation, repeatedly reminding Rothfuss that she was only discussing data mining because it was on their agenda for the day. 

“I told him I was not here to discuss the Common Core,” Sabrosky said.  “RTI had been there that very morning discussing security concerns and data collection. I thought they would want to hear my comments.”

Rothfuss continued with Sabrosky until House Chairman Matt Teeters (R-Lingle) finally stopped the exchange.

“It was very unprofessional of the chairman to not stop what was going on,” Sabrosky said, “I feel like they were trying to get me off track. I did come with paperwork and I was walking them through the folder. I wanted to be as precise as possible because being factual is important.”

For her first experience testifying before a State Committee, Sabrosky said this was a very unpleasant experience.  

“I think they heard me with their ears, but they didn’t listen. They were too concerned with the Common Core and making me look bad.”

Policymakers around the country are beginning to take a second look at the Common Core and they don’t like what they are finding. Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana and many other states have had the courage to recognize a bad deal when they see it and are attempting to reverse it, including Gov.  Mike Pence in Indiana; Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania; and Lt. Governor Dan Forest in North Carolina. 

Wyoming needs to join the growing tide of states that see Common Core for what it is – an untested, progressive experiment foisted on our children under the guise of “rigor” and being “state-led.

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