MADISON - Some Wisconsin legislators believe education standards should get a fresh look and make changes every six years.
Authors of a state education proposal want to form a committee to do that.
The Republican backed bill would give the governor, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the heads of both parties in the legislature the power to pick the 15 member committee.
Republican Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt sits on the Assembly Committee on Education and sponsors the bill, AB 617.
He says the selected members would need to be teachers, parents, board members and other education experts. He says the governor would pick six members, DPI would select 5 members, then the majority and minority leaders of the Assembly and Senate would each select a member to round out the 15 person committee.
Thiesfeldt says the committee isn't being proposed as a Republican power grab in education.
"This isn't built just to fit just this time in space," Thiesfeldt said. "This is built looking out to the future too, you know because we're not going to have Republicans in control forever."
But the bill will give the sitting governor’s party the power to appoint the majority of the members on the committee. The six selections from the governor's office, plus the two selections from the legislature would make a majority on the 15 member committee.
That's something that worries Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright. She also sits on the Assembly Committee on Education, and worries the proposal is politicizing the standards writing process.
"It's a big reason I ran for office is to make sure that we don't really politicize education, and that we leave it in the hands of the experts," Wright said. "And I am concerned this goes too far in making our standards politicized."
The committee's standards would also replace the state's current Common Core standards. Wisconsin adopted those standards in 2010 for both math and English. More than 45 states have adopted some part of the standards across the country.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, Common Core provides guidance and support, while still maintaining the local control so important to districts throughout the state. It also helped standardize curriculum.
Wright was a teacher before being elected to the Assembly in 2012. She has experience teaching the Common Core standards.
"I don't think it's perfect," Wright said. "I do think there is room for improvement overall and I see that there was a need for standardization of our curriculum and I think Common Core takes us in the right direction."
State Superintendent Tony Evers agrees. He called the proposed bill “wholly unacceptable” this week.
He said Wednesday in a YouTube post that the standards change would be a step backwards for Wisconsin.
"We're going to be a national embarrassment, for what we are doing in public education, we can't afford that, our economy can't afford that," Evers said.
But Thiesfeldt believes a move away from Common Core and the formation of the committee would be the right move for Wisconsin.
"It's a much more open process than we've had in the past and certainly much more open process that we used to implement common core standards," Thiesfeldt said.
The Assembly Committee on Education will vote on the proposal Thursday.
EAGLE RIVER - Soccer players may need to wait for the snow on their fields to melt. But they know cabin fever is starting to set in, and it's the perfect time to capitalize on it.
The 7th annual Cabin Fever Indoor Soccer Tournament kicked off today at Northland Pines High School. The event raises money for the school’s boy's and girl's soccer teams.
"This was an opportunity to have an indoor soccer program so the kids can do something in the winter," says tournament director Steve Gilbert. "There was a need for a fundraiser so we thought why not have a tournament. There are other tournaments in the region, why not have one here with this tremendous facility that we have here at Pines."
Nearly 100 5th through 8th graders played in the co-ed soccer matches. Their participation makes it possible for the team to buy new equipment.
"It allows us to buy things that maybe the school can't afford to buy for them, so different types of warm-ups, equipment out on the field," says Gilbert. "One time we bought a camera for them so we could film their games. So it's going to good causes."
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin’s attorney general enforces and defends laws made by the state, but one of Wisconsin’s candidates for the position believes his opponents will only pick and choose.
Right now Republican Candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, faces three Democrats, Rep. Jon Richards, Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne. Richards represents a portion of Milwaukee in the State Assymbly. Happ is the Jefferson County District Attorney. Ozanne is the Dane County District Attorney.
Schimel says some of his opponents, especially Richard will only enforce laws they agree with.
"That's problematic and I believe that's not what the attorney general should be doing, that's a crusade, that's a policy maker," Schimel said. "If Rep. Richards wants to do that then he should stay in the legislature."
Richards has been in the Legislature since 1998.
Newswatch 12 asked him Friday if he would pick and choose laws to enforce.
He said he’d look at the constitution to determine how he would enforce laws in Wisconsin.
"I can grantee you there are plenty of laws that I voted against that I will end up enforcing and making sure that we implement," Richards said, "And there are some laws that I think clearly violate the U-S constitution or the state constitution and we'll be taking a hard look at those."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
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