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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Legislator Battles K-12 Education Evaluation Standard

A state representative and former teacher is waging war against common core standards, a method of evaluating student progress in K-12 education. Jim Bolin tells the House Education Committee that the standards force national evaluations on South Dakota students and set aside local authority. But the Secretary of Education says educators can still set curriculum and teaching methods—core standards measure whether those techniques work.
Bolin introduced two bills to rein in core curriculum standards. The first one, House Bill 1203, exempts private schools from having to use the evaluation tool to be accredited. The second, House Bill 1204, prevents the standards from expanding to subjects beyond math and language arts without legislative approval.
Bolin says the new method of evaluation derails American tradition: “This is totally moving away from the way that American schools were intended and that schools in South Dakota have been successful at.”
The standards have been in place in South Dakota since 2010, after two years of statewide input from educators and public hearings, according to Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. She objects to accrediting private schools without requiring the same standards that public schools must meet.
“What accreditation tells us, what it tells you, what it tells parents, what it tells the school district, what it tells the taxpayer, that every school that is accredited across the state of SD provides the same educational opportunities,” Schopp says.
Bill sponsor Jim Bolin says the state legislature should decide whether the standards expand, rather than leaving the decision to the South Dakota Board of Education.
“If these standards are so necessary and crucial to the improvement of schools in our state and across the nation,” Bolin says, “then why should the decision-making about their adoption be left to hand-picked people who have no accountability to the general public, who often come from the educational bureaucracy?”
House Education committee member Julie Bartling says the nine-member board is approved by the state Senate: “The legislature, at least on the Senate side, does have a vision and a say in who serves on that board. So we do have some legislative oversight at the present time.”
Committee members killed the bill exempting private schools by an 8 to 7 vote, and by the same margin passed the second bill requiring legislative approval of expansion.