You are going to be hearing alot about Common Core State Standards in the coming weeks. I think it’s important to give you background on the history of our educational system for that last 125 years.

In the 1950’s the most important elected official for most families was the school board member. The school board voted on issues that really mattered. Over time that changed. One of the initiatives in The War on Poverty was The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1964. As money moved from Washington, D.C. to the local school systems, mandates followed. Ultimately federal mandates diluted the decision-making role of the local school board. As the influence of school board members declined the parents stayed home.

The local school board had a remarkably good record over many years. From 1890 to 1960 scores on standardized tests improved in every decade. Scores peaked in 1964, the year the federal government got involved, and have not increased since then. Reading scores today are lower than they have been in 40 years. The original Education Act and every update since 1964 have contained explicit language proscribing any establishment of a national curriculum. There is an effort today to impose a larger role for the national government through Common Core, a program to get states to adopt a set of national goals and standards.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative that details what K-12 students should know at the end of each grade. The intiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and seeks to establish consistent eduction standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter two or four year college programs or enter the workforce.

Our country became a superpower on the backs of men and women who studied in one-room schoolhouses. I do not think it takes a great deal of technology or corporate and government involvement for kids to succeed. We need to rethink the Common Core and the associated high stakes testing and get back to the business of educating our children in a safe, healthy, and productive manner.

Several bills regarding Common Core were addressed in the Senate this week.

SB 64-The Senate passed SB64 with a vote of 28-6 to limit the authority of the Board of Education to adopt Common Core Standards.

SB 63- The Senate also passed SB64 with a vote of 34-0. This legislation would protect student privacy by prohibiting the collection of information not necessary for the calculation of funding for public education. (Common Core requires data collection on students, teachers and principals)

SB 62- The Senate did not pass SB 62 which would have created for a comprehensive evaluation of the Common Core State Standards. This bill received 18 yeas votes and 16 no votes, but failed to obtain a necessary 2/3rds vote because of the appropriation of funds.

Senate Bills 63-64 will now go to the House Education Committee for consideration. I will be supporting both votes in committee.

Other House Bills and House Resolutions that came before the House of Representatives this past week for passage.

I voted no on HB 1037, an act to allow the DOT to establish speed zones on certain roads. The proponents of this bill pointed out area’s in SD where speed limit signs had been posted and presumably enforcement and arrests have occurred, however they pointed out the state never had the authority to post the speed limits, so the state has been illegally enforcing laws on the public and now wanted to pass this law. Now that the law has passed, the illegal activity by the state will be hidden.

I voted no on HB 1025, Revise rules for nursing homes. This bill had over 10 fee increases. These increases in cost will be shifted to the consumer and drive up the cost of a loved one in a nursing home. Not good policy, we need to be looking at ways to lower the cost of nursing homes and health issues in general.

I voted yes on HB 1021, provide judicial review of board of regents, this will add more due process for a student under review.

I voted yes on :
HCR 1004, Recognizing Hot Springs as “The Veterans Town”.

I voted no on HCR 1002, a resolution that had idea’s I agree with and support, but singled out rural schools and implied they don’t have good teachers, also the resolution’s wording was to “open” for creation of new programs. When it comes to education we need to fund K-12 before we start finding other things to spend your money on.

I voted yes on HCR 1001, a resolution to support school districts to cooperate and share idea’s to better education.

Rep Noem reported to the legislature that 95,000 head of livestock were loss as a result of the Atlas Blizzard. I might also add that she reported that the Farm Bill is close to being passed. The Livestock Indemnity Program is included in the Farm Bill and they will be trying to raise the cap of $100,000 to $250,000 due to the huge losses the ranchers suffered.
I also brought our concerns about imports from Brazil and asked for her support in extending the comment period. She agreed to putting a request in, so if you get a chance it would be a good idea to send off a email to her regarding this important issue facing our industry.

As always you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at rep.may@state.sd.us during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact the legislators.

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