In the aftermath of a forum on Idaho’s Common Core academic standards initiative, some members of the Idaho Senate and House are suggesting that legislative changes to the agenda may be on the way.
“There may very well be legislation in the House that could modify the path that the Common Core initiative is currently on,” said Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, a member of the House Education Committee.
Horman was among a group of legislators who participated in the Common Core forum, held jointly with members of both the House and Senate education committees. “I went into it (the forum) thinking that there would probably not be any legislation in the House about the initiative, but now I believe it is a possibility.”
Horman, a former board member of the Bonneville School District and a supporter of the standards agenda, told IdahoReporter.com that Idaho is several years into the Common Core initiative. “We’re at the implementation stage, looking now at field testing the exam,” she noted.
She is not the only legislator suggesting that changes may be on the way for Common Core; others are stating it more strongly, noting that they not only expect legislative changes, but that they also believe that such changes are necessary.
“I learned something from everyone on the panel. I thought it was a very good session,” commented Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, of the Senate Education Committee. “The bottom line, though, is that the test is the key, because what the content of the test is will dictate what is taught to the student. As far as I can tell, no one in Idaho has any significant influence over what’s on the test.”
Fulcher’s concerns about the testing component of the Common Core agenda are similar to those articulated by Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, also an education committee member.
When asked if he expected the Senate Education Committee to address the testing concerns, Fulcher stated, “I think so, and after what we saw and heard today (at the forum), rightfully so.”
“I support higher standards, but I’m not ready to support Common Core in its current form,” said Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. He added that the full Legislature has never actually weighed-in on the standards initiative, but rather, it was adopted by the House and Senate education committees, a process that does not require a vote of the full Legislature.
“I’ve been a friend of Superintendent Luna for years, and I appreciate his passion for what he does,” explained Nonini. “But this is just such a big deal that I think we need to move a little bit slowly, get the full Legislature involved, rather than one committee of nine adopting something and then recommending that adoption to the other members of the Senate. That would go for my eight years in the House. I would say the same thing if I were still there, too.”
Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, who has also raised concerns about Common Core’s testing system, told IdahoReporter.com that “there was very little said about the testing component” during the forum.
“Most of this discussion was over the standards, and for most of us who are concerned about Common Core, the standards themselves are not the focus of our concern. I still think the testing is too long, and that we don’t need it,” said Thayn.