64th Legislative Assembly: Week 5 Highlights Monday Sneak Preview- Common Core and other things K-12, State-based Health Care exchanges

Week 5 of the 64th Legislative Assembly kicks off Monday, and the battle for the hearts and minds (literally) of our kids will be front and center as Common Core and other related topics are the highlight. Since these hearings begin right away, we wanted to kick out a sneak preview of our weekly post on goings on in the Legislature; with this one covering Monday. Hopefully you will find a way to break away from nonstop Super Bowl coverage to read it.

On Monday morning you will see a post for the rest of the week.

Monday, February 2nd

Common Core State Standards

House and Senate Education Committees

The battle over Common Core State Standards in North Dakota will probably be one of the most intense of any debate this session. I fully expect it to get downright ugly, and if you have been following the issue yourself this should not come as a surprise.

I also will not rehash what has been covered in many posts here on SAB; in part because it has been extensively discussed, but more importantly because it is one of those issues where if you have been following it your mind is pretty much made up as to if we should keep them or chuck them (and it appears more and more every day that the momentum is towards chucking them).

I personally feel they should go away. This is yet another nationwide program that looks and smells just like federal standards (and does have a tie to the federal government, even if the standards themselves may not be stamped as such). We know how well those have not worked ever since the federal government butted into education via the formation of the US Department of Education, and the subsequent need to create solutions to problems which either don’t exist or are best dealt with at the state and local level, so that numerous federal jobs and large federal budgets could be justified. Common Core is simply going to be another fad in K-12 education that will fail just as it’s predecessors (dreamed up by both republicans and democrats, mind you) have.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Most importantly, this debate exemplifies the long running debate of who knows what is best for children, and who should have the final say — their parents, or the government. As far as I am concerned it is parents every time and in both instances[/mks_pullquote]Most importantly, this debate exemplifies the long running debate of who knows what is best for children, and who should have the final say — their parents, or the government. As far as I am concerned it is parents every time and in both instances.

The best thing we can do in North Dakota is to design our own education system, by ourselves, for our own kids. If we don’t have the talent to do that, we need to take a hard look at who is running education in our state and in our districts — and fire them if they are not up to the job. Unfortunately, so many of those individuals have so many political chips in the kitty that they play loose with open records law and apply passive bullying techniques on employees in order to get them to sign petitions of support for Common Core.

So unpopular are these standards that the NDGOP passed a resolution calling for their repeal at their 2014 Convention, despite DPI Superintendent Kirsten Baesler’s support for Common Core. As you may recall, Baesler ran with the NDGOP’s endorsement in her pocket (the office itself is supposed to be non-partisan, but that is just window dressing). To be fair to the NDGOP, however, once she secured that endorsement she forgot who gave them their support. It is pretty hard to point to anything she has done which could be construed as conservative; even by the NDGOP’s loose interpretation of the term. It is also pretty clear from this whole Common Core fiasco, and how she has mishandled it, that Baesler is not up to the job of being a DPI Superintendent.

There are actually several Common Core related bills on the schedule for Monday. The one getting the most attention is HB 1461. This one will be heard Monday by the House Education Committee at 8:00am in the Brynhild Haugland room.  The schedule still reflects Pioneer, but since this hearing is expected to be packed it was moved to the larger Brynhild Haugland room. Based on what I am hearing, they would have been better off holding the hearing at the Bismarck Civic Center due to the crowds expected to attend.

The Senate Education Committee will hear the following bills on Monday as well, in the Missouri River room:

  • 8:30am – SCR 4011, which is a resolution to among other things call for elimination of the US Department of Education.
  • 9:00am – SB 2326, is related to the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), which in part reads:

SLDS

One of the biggest concerns over Common Core is the datamining aspect. This datamining is central to Common Core, and frankly speaking it is very disturbing. SLDS is functional now, and efforts are being made to scale back what information is mined and shared on our kids. What this bill will do, among other things, is simply allow a district to advise parents what data is being mined, and it will do so in a manner where parents have to go seek out the information instead of the schools giving it to them.

There is no provision in the bill for parents to say um… no, you will not track that information on my child, or share it. It is real interesting how this bill will be heard in the middle of the HB 1461 debate scheduled for the same time. It’s almost as if they want to be able to slip it by while those parents are tied up in the Common Core bill … hopefully so the carrier can say “there was no testimony in opposition to the bill” once it hits the Senate floor.

  • 10:15am – SB 2254, which relates to Early Childhood Education programs.

This bill appears to attempt to make such programs mandatory in school districts. These programs wave been discussed before on SAB, and despite all excellent intentions they are amounting to nothing more than expensive government-funded babysitting. House Human Services also hears HB 1410 at 11:00am in the Fort Union Room, which is another bill on Head Start.

The House Education Committee will wrap up their day starting at 2:00pm with a hearing on HB 1380, which would put into Century Code when a Superintendent is required to cancel school due to inclement weather. I will be the first to say that there are a few Superintendents out there who probably are more worried about using up snow days than cancelling school in a timely manner, but as a whole this is a decision I think we need to keep trusting them with based on their own judgement and in consultation with public safety officials in their jurisdictions.

State-based Health Care Exchanges Study

House Human Services

Ft. Union

9:00am

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]A few years gone by has not made Obamacare any better of an idea, nor has it made state exchanges right for the state. We will be best served by not giving any level of credibility to them through even a study, let alone seriously considering their implementation in North Dakota[/mks_pullquote]As you may recall, Rep. George Keiser stood pretty much alone in his efforts to have North Dakota set up state-based exchanges under Obamacare. He is back with HB 1378, which sticks the camel’s nose under the tent again; this time with a study relating to the feasibility of implementing these exchanges. He stands pretty much alone again, as he is the only sponsor on this bill. The state stayed away from these exchanges like they were the plague, and this proved to be a very astute move.

A few years gone by has not made Obamacare any better of an idea, nor has it made state exchanges right for the state. We will be best served by not giving any level of credibility to them through even a study, let alone seriously considering their implementation in North Dakota.

Carbon Monoxide Levels in Indoor Ice Arenas

House Human Services

Ft. Union

10:30am

While bills like this don’t normally capture our attention, after recent news from this weekend I am of the opinion they better hoghouse amend this bill to include driving Zambonis while under the influence. A Zamboni is not a motor vehicle, and an indoor ice rink isn’t a road. It is an interesting quandary for the States Attorney, although I am sure this guy will be convicted of something.

Dangerous? Sure, it could have been. But can you laugh at the absurdity? Absolutely.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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