Last night, Oostburg School District held a Question and Answer session regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). District Administrator, Kevin Bruggink, led the discussion and answered a multitude of questions about the standards. Parents, teachers, administrators, and stakeholders attended to voice concerns and learn more about the standards Gov. Doyle agreed to adopt in 2010 when Wisconsin applied for the Race to the Top federal grants.
All of the attendees who spoke voiced some degree of opposition to the CCSS. The concerns included the constitutionality of a federally forced program, Washington DC controlled curriculum, collection of data of the students and privacy of such data, indoctrination, quality of the standards, undermining the values of the community, federal government influence, and teachers teaching to the tests, thereby taking classroom time away from classical literature and other important things that wouldn’t be tested.
Many Oostburg residents who are also members of the local Tea Party group, Sheboygan Liberty Coalition, attended and suggested that Mr. Bruggink should speak out against the CCSS to state legislators and others because he has an influential voice. He even said, “if we felt there would be federal control of our curriculum, we would be up in arms.” At this point, Mr. Bruggink thinks many of the concerns are down the road though. Oriannah Paul, Leader of the Sheboygan Liberty Coalition, countered that the prudent thing to do with CCSS would be understand where the CCSS is heading and fight against them now, rather than in the future.
It isn’t just the tea party that is opposed to CCSS though. A retired teacher, who works at a nearby library, spoke up about her concerns with the testing, telling a story of how she asked a group of third grade students (from another school district) last fall about what they were learning in school. After seeing their reluctance to answer, she asked what they had done so far in the school year, and the students eventually said they were learning about the test and learning how to take the test.
Only time will tell how this meeting will influence the Oostburg School District leadership. The District Administrator said the number of people who came out to the meeting surprised him. The grassroots is mobilizing on Common Core and will be a powerful voice on this topic as opposition mounts against these standards.