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Senate Committee Adopts Core Standards 

 
May 8, 2010
 
     A valiant bipartisan effort to remove the Common Core Standards language from the Senate omnibus education policy bill was narrowly defeated on the evening of May 4th.  This language was the same that was defeated and that we warned you about in the House bill last week. It would adopt the yet to be completed national standards by expedited rulemaking authority, meaning no public hearing, all to gain 20 points in the unconstitutional, sovereignty-robbing Race to the Top program.  These national standards, especially because they are likely to become the basis for federal funding for No Child Left Behind, and as confirmed by many respected groups, such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Heartland Institute, will become a de facto federal government run curriculum.
 
     Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) offered the amendment in committee that would have taken out that odious standards language.  It was eloquently supported by Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) and Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista).
 
     Dr. Karen Effrem testified in favor of the amendment.  She pointed out the loss of state control, the fact that the Senate had not had a single hearing on the standards and the House had had only one.  She also pointed out information from the libertarian Cato Institute showing there is no research showing that national standards actually improve educational achievement and from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute that showed  how subjective and arbitrary the Race to the Top application process is.  She said that Minnesota would be highly unlikely to receive a grant anyway and that we should not destroy our good Minnesota standards just for that possibility.
 
     Assistant Commissioner Karen Klinzing testified for the Department of Education.  She tried to convince the committee that because there is an extra 15% of the standards that states are "allowed" by the feds to add to their standards that will make especially the math standards acceptable.  This is despite the fact that Dr. Larry Gray of the University of Minnesota and veteran teacher Ellen Delaney both said that the math standards were unlikely to be "ready for prime time" when the final draft is released later this month.  Ms. Klinzing then went on to incorrectly testify that Dr. Effrem was wrong and that there would be public hearings on the standards.  Although Dr. Effrem was not allowed to rebut in the hearing, Senate staff later confirmed that the language as written, would allow NO public hearing.  (The audio of the entire hearing is available here for the May 4th education hearing with discussion of this amendment available starting at 1:06:18 of the second half).
 
      Chairman Chuck Wiger initially ruled that the amendment to stop the standards passed.  However, because a division was called by Senator Terri Bonoff, members were asked to raise their hands to be counted.  The amendment then failed by a vote of 8-7.  Though not an official roll call, the following senators were observed voting for and against the amendment:
Voting for the amendment and for sovereignty and academic excellence:  Dahle (D), Gerlach (R), Hann  (R), Koch  (R), Olson (R), Robling (R), Rummel (D).
Voting against the amendment and toward more federal control of curriculum:  Anderson (D), Bonoff (D), Fobbe (D), Michel (R), Saltzman (D), Stumpf (D), Wiger (D),  Saxhaug (D).
 
     This whole policy bill goes to the floor.  It contains most of the other provisions that the governor wanted for Race to the Top on teacher accountability plus almost all of the governor's policy language for the rest of the bill. There were rumors that the bill would be on the floor as early as May 5th.  However, because of the unallotment decision and enormous budget issues, teachers' union resistance to Race to the Top's teacher accountability provisions, and gubernatorial politics, the bill may not reach the Senate floor until this weekend or Monday.  The House omnibus bill, although not containing the standards or teacher reforms will not be on the floor until May 8th or later.
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