An Open Letter to Governor Walker: No More Games on Common Core

Delivered by hand to the Governor’s Office
July 6, 2015

Governor Walker,

It is time for some hard questions…and the truth.

On April 20th of this year, you were directly asked during a major media interview if you would repeal Common Core should such a bill land on your desk. You replied affirmatively, adding, “Absolutely! I proposed it in my budget.”

Yet, contrary to claims you stand against the Common Core standards, you are effectively entrenching those standards in Wisconsin via Common Core-aligned, high-stakes assessments.

For months, you have justified taking no definitive action against Common Core, insisting that local school districts have the power to decide for themselves what standards they will use.

However, in a statement to the press on January 17th of this year, you demonstrated clear understanding that Common Core-aligned assessments effectively coerce school districts into retaining the standards.

For this reason, many of us were initially encouraged when you indicated that you would defund Wisconsin’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) via your proposed 2015-2017 biennial budget. We hoped for substantive movement, at long last, on an issue that affects most children, parents, and teachers in Wisconsin. However, as we read the actual budget language, we became troubled. Despite the defunding of SBAC, nothing in the budget language prohibits the selection or implementation of another Common Core-aligned assessment. Nor does it propose any fiscal plan for the creation or adoption of non-Common Core standards.

As it turns out, we were right to be skeptical.

On April 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DoA) issued a Request for Bids (RFB) to replace the SBAC assessments that your proposed budget would ostensibly defund. The RFB was so vague as to which academic standards bidders should use to construct the new assessments that it took two rounds of questions to pin down a definitive answer. On June 5th the truth was irrefutably revealed: For mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), the State of Wisconsin is telling bidders to write assessments based on the Common Core. Even then, there was clearly an effort to make it difficult to get to the truth. The links provided to the math and ELA standards did not directly contain the standards. Bidders and interested citizens, such as us, had to chase a rabbit trail of links and pages finally to arrive at PDF documents that contained the standards—clearly labeled as Common Core.

Please tell us, then, Governor Walker, how you can say you are doing anything to rid this state of the false reform initiative that is Common Core?

Please also share with us how you can say, as you did to a national radio audience, that you have proposed repealing Common Core in your budget?

Moreover, please explain to us how the language “the state superintendent may not give effect to any academic standard developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative” can possibly be true in light of the new Common Core-aligned assessments your administration is now pursuing?

Even most legislators were sadly fooled by this gambit. Experience has taught us to be far more measured.

We’re tired, Governor Walker. We’re tired of excuses and half-truths. We’re tired of misleading and hollow rhetoric that repeatedly amounts to nothing more than political loopholes and broken promises. And most of all we’re tired of watching while the education of the children of Wisconsin takes a backseat.

To whom are you listening on this issue, Governor? It certainly isn’t people who actually care about the individual lives of Wisconsin children, the rights of parents, the livelihoods and freedom of teachers, or the proper authority of the average citizen over education.

Here are some measures that would make a true difference, Governor, in dispensing with Common Core—items that remain completely unaddressed in this state:

  • Ÿ  Prevent the wholesale collection, mining, storage, and sharing of personally identifiable student data.
  • Ÿ  Prohibit the Common Core initiative, anything based on it, and any standardized assessments aligned to it.
  • Ÿ  Provide for the immediate adoption of temporary model standards completely unaligned to Common Core.
  • Ÿ  Propose an operational plan, budget, and timeline for Wisconsin to create its own standards and assessments, with direct input from classroom teachers and university professors possessing both actual subject-matter and instructional expertise.
  • Ÿ  Ensure that high-stakes, standardized assessments—the results of which have long been known to correlate to little more than ZIP code—can no longer be leveraged as a principal means of gauging teacher, school, or district accountability.
  • Ÿ  Reduce the fiscal role and oversight of the state in education, so that citizens in a local district once again become the principal agents of accountability and may more truly be masters of their own affairs.

We’re not going away.

We are waiting and watching, Governor…and with your ambitions for higher political office on full display, so is the rest of the nation.

Will you finally lead on this issue? Or is that up to someone else?

Sincerely,

The undersigned

Brian Medved
President
Protect Your Child’s Future
Wisconsin
Dr. Timothy D. Slekar
Co-Founder United Opt Out & Creator of BustEDpencils.com
Madison, WI
Jeffrey Horn
Organizer
Prairie Patriots
Sun Prairie, WI
Debra Kadon
Wisconsin Administrator
Badass Teachers Association (BATs)
Green Bay, WI
Kirsten Lombard
Organizer
Wisconsin 9/12 Project
Editor
Common Ground on Common Core
Madison, WI
Dr. Duke Pesta
Academic Director
FreeedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Sara Lehman
Leader
Opt Out Fox Cities
Appleton, WI
Wendy Muckerheide
Leader
Kewaskum Against Common Core
Kewaskum, WI
Alan Scholl
Executive Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Ken Van Doren
Education Coordinator
Wisconsin Campaign For Liberty
Mauston, WI
Todd Welch
Wisconsin Campaign For Liberty
Menomonie, WI
Mary Black
Student Development Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Eric Shimpach
Wisconsin Coordinator
Young Americans for Liberty
Baraboo, WI
Tracie Happel
Parent & Educator
Onalaska, WI
Kristi LaCroix
Parent
Kenosha, WI
Savannah Bartel
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Madison
Madison, WI
Ryan McMorrow
Young Americans for Liberty – UW La Crosse
La Crosse, WI
Brad Hanson
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Eau Claire
Eau Claire, WI
Shane Otten
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Whitewater
Whitewater, WI
Levi Broadnax
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI
Eric Hodkiewicz
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Stevens Point
Stevens Point, WI
Matt Sama
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI
Cassidy Sather
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Superior
Superior, WI
Dexter Robson
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – Carthage College
Kenosha, WI
Andrea Lombard
Leader
Sauk County Tea Party
Baraboo, WI
Greg Luce
Leader
La Crosse Tea Party
La Crosse, WI
Kody Guden
Leader
Young Americans for Liberty – UW River Falls
River Falls, WI
James Murphy
Treasurer
Green Bay TEA Party
Green Bay, WI
Arlene Frelk
Organizer
Merrilan TEA Party
Merrilan, WI
Ronald Zahn
Leader
Northeast Wisconsin Patriots
De Pere, WI
James Leist
Leader
Manitowoc TEA Movement
Manitowoc, WI
Ed Willing
FoundersIntent.ORG
Caledonia, WI
Nathan Dietsche
Leader
Western Wisconsin TEA Party
Altoona, WI
Joana Briggs
Leader
Greendale Tea Party
Greendale, WI
Earl Hoffman
Leader
Clark County Tea Party
Greenwood, WI
Cynthia Narance
Leader
Christians United in Truth
Green Bay, WI
Steve Welcenbach
Leader
Conservative Insurgency & Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association
Menomonee Falls, WI
Karl Koenigs
Leader
Wisconsin TEA Party Committee on State Sovereignty
Peshtigo, WI
Paul Lembrich
Leader
Southern Wisconsin Alliance of Taxpayers
Beloit, WI & Rock County Patriots
Janesville, WI
Shirley Kufeldt
Secretary
Northwoods Patriots
Eagle River, WI
Oriannah Paul
Leader
Sheboygan Liberty Coalition
Sheboygan, WI
Marv Munyon
Leader
Rock River Patriots
Fort Atkinson, WI
Edward Perkins
Leader
Fox Valley Initiative
Appleton, WI
David Stertz
Organizer
Fox Valley Conservative Forum
Appleton, WI
Michael Hintze
Wisconsin State Coordinator
Tea Party Patriots
Brookfield, WI
Georgia Janisch
Facilitator
Rock County Voter Education Forum
Janesville, WI
Mike Zoril
Facilitator
Rock County Voter Education Forum
Janesville, WI
Darin Danelski
Leader
Lake Country Defenders of Liberty
Oconomowoc, WI
Joanne Terry
Leader
Ozaukee Patriots
Mequon, WI
Dan Curran
Leader
Eagle Forum of Wisconsin & Concerned Citizens of Iowa County
Dodgeville, WI
Sandi Ruggles
Chapter President
Eagle Forum of  Southeast Wisconsin
Menomonee Falls, WI
Andy Craig
Chair
Libertarian Party of Milwaukee County
Milwaukee, WI
Phillip Anderson
President
Libertarian Party of Dane County
Madison, WI
Michael Murphy
Treasurer
Wisconsin Liberty Movement
Milwaukee, WI
Matt Augustine
Former Chairman
Republican Party of Kenosha County, WI
Kenosha, WI
Andrew Kolberg
Chairman
Republican Party of Columbia County, WI
Portage, WI
Richard Church
Chairman
Republican Party of Adams County, WI
Friendship, WI
Jackie Johnson
Chairman
Republican Liberty Caucus – Wisconsin Chapter
Madison, WI
    Press Contact:Jeffrey Horn
jeffreydhorn@gmail.com
608.347.9577
   

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About Jeffrey Horn

Jeffrey D. Horn is a father of four children, a grassroots activist, and a data scientist. He is the author of the essay "LEARNING WITH LEVIATHAN: OBJECTIFICATION, SURVEILLANCE, AND CONTROL IN A CONCEALED COMMAND ECONOMY" in the book "Common Ground on Common Core: Voices from across the Political Spectrum Expose the Realities of the Common Core State Standards." Earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he also holds a master’s degree in mathematics and a Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A professional programmer, he works daily to build infrastructure that can be used to leverage Big Data in improving advertising, medical decisions, investing, and more. Very conscious of the tension that exists between technology and personal freedom, he has been educating and advocating against Common Core and high-stakes testing in Wisconsin for several years. Over the course of 2013 and 2014, he spearheaded an initiative to unite a variety of organizations and individuals on Common Core related issues for the purpose of sending several open letters to state-level public officials in Wisconsin. The letters ultimately helped to ensure a series of public hearings on Common Core at locations around the state in late 2013. You can contact Jeff via email at jeffreydhorn@gmail.com or via Twitter: @jeffreydhorn