Controversial Common Core Bill Will Get Amendments On The House Floor

Last week the House Education Committee heard testimony on HB1461, which was introduced by Rep. Jim Kasper to address North Dakota’s adoption of the Common Core standards. Lawmakers listened to more than five hours of public testimony on the bill before giving it a 9-4 “do not pass” recommendation.

But the version of the bill committee members voted on won’t be the version that the full House chamber votes on this week.

Per an email sent out by Rep. Kasper to his colleagues on Sunday the bill has been amended. You can read the full email below, and see the changes to the bill here.

Here’s what the legislation will mean after the changes, per Kaper’s description. You can read the original iteration of the legislation here.

Requires withdrawal from the Smarter Balance Consortium and other similar organizations. “Section One requires the Supt. of Public Instruction to withdraw from all consortiums and entities that are affiliated with SBAC, UCLA and any other entities we might not know about, and provide these entities notice that ND is withdrawing,” Kasper writes in his email. “This action will give ND and the Legislative Assembly back our state sovereignty over our educational decisions in North Dakota, as Article VIII of the North Dakota Constitution requires.”

Prohibits North Dakota from re-joining the Smarter Balance Consortium or any similar organization. “Section 2 limits the ability of the Supt. Of Public Instruction to put us into back into or commit North Dakota to any other entity like SBAC, Common Core, UCLA, etc. that we just withdrew from, without legislative approval first,” Kasper writes. “This is the only Limitation on the authority of the Supt. Of Public Instruction in this amendment to HB 1461—Contrary to what the Opponents of HB 1461 are attempting to get you to believe.”

Stops assessment tests. “[Section three] stops the tests–assessments— that Common Core through the NDDPI, either have already begun in North Dakota or are about to begin,” Kasper writes. “Already across the country numerous states either have or are in the process of withdrawing from these assessments.”

Establishes a process through which North Dakota approves its own education standards. “This section establishes a committee of thirteen NORTH DAKOTA CITIZENS, CHAIRED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, to work to establish North Dakota’s new standards and methods to assess our children,” writes Kasper. The committee will consist of 13 members appointed by legislative leaders. “The committee’s charge is to develop the North Dakota content standards and assessments for the areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics that are internationally benchmarked,” Kasper adds.

The amendments also declare the bill an emergency, meaning that if it passes by a 2/3’s margin in each chamber of the legislature it would become law the moment the governor signs it as opposed to later this summer.

But that’s the question: Will Governor Jack Dalrymple sign a bill like this? Dalrymple has expressed support for Common Core, and is closely aligned politically with the Chamber of Commerce which is a strong proponent of the standards.

The rumblings I’m hearing is that even if Kasper’s bill squeaks through the Governor isn’t likely to sign it into law. Which, given how passionate opponents to Common Core are, could create real divisions among Republicans in the state.

Kasper Email

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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