No Common Core: House Bill 1223

by Bill Powers

HB 1223 will end the state’s involvement with Common Core. The Bill states:

“The South Dakota Board of Education shall end the state’s involvement with the Common Core State Standards Initiative no later than June 30, 2017. Further, it is the policy of the State of South Dakota that no multistate educational standards related to, similar to, or associated with the Common Core State Standards Initiative may be adopted in this state.”

House Education committee dedicated all of their 2/18 meeting to discussing HB 1223. Opponents and proponents each had 40 minutes. There were many speakers for and against the bill. As I see it there were two important concerns about the Common Core. First, there is a concern about the flexibility of the standards and second that at least some of the standards are not developmentally inappropriate. Standards that are too strict may make it difficult to adjust what is taught and how it is taught to fit particular student needs. If the standards cannot be met by some students, standards that are too strict may disallow any appropriate accommodations. There was some evidence given regarding the standards themselves. Especially
in the early years, some argued that some of the standards may be developmentally inappropriate, forcing students to develop abstract thinking before they are ready. Others argued that teaching to the standards can be an inefficient use of teacher time, and a waste of resources.

A representative of the SD Department of Education argued that the Common Core was not as inflexible as opponents indicate. Spelling and arithmetic tables are not disallowed. Moreover, even though Common Core is copyrighted, the state can modify the standards. Already reviews are scheduled for English and mathematics in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Because the Common Core is copyrighted, there is some controversy as to whether a state is free to modify the standards. It seems, however, that since some states are modifying the Common Core standards this is not a legal problem.

HB 1223 was tabled by the Education committee by a close vote of 8 to 7.

My concern with Common Core is somewhat different from that expressed. I am concerned that there are a significant number of students graduating from high school not job ready. It seems to me that the Common Core is intended to make students college ready. However, not all students go to college. Indeed, there are good reasons for all students not to go to college. There are many skilled jobs that do not require college training. Many students are not only not benefited from a college-ready program, but they are often lost to education entirely as a result of inappropriate programs, leaving high school benefited little from the experience. For this reason it behooves us to consider a far more flexible educational system, not merely after high school, but well before high school graduation.


  1. Steve O'Brien says:

    Bill, could you explain a bit on your point that CC may make students college ready but not job ready? How does CC focus in that direction and what would you rather see as a focus for standards?

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