Rising legislative opposition to Core?

Here’s another sign that the 2014 Legislature may take another look at the Common Core standards approved three years ago.


Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett

State Sen. Steven Thayn has co-written a letter with Madison School District Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas, saying the state should drop the new Idaho Core Standards or allow districts to opt out. (Here’s a link to their letter, which appears in our Voices section.)

Among their concerns: They say the standards are unproven, were rolled out too rapidly and rely on an onerous assessment that will leave Idaho students feeling “intellectually inadequate.”

Thomas has already voiced his opposition to Common Core. As a member of Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force, Thomas voted against a recommendation endorsing Common Core. His was the only dissenting vote on any of the group’s 21 recommendations.

Thayn’s opposition is interesting; in January 2011, the Emmett Republican was a member of the House Education Committee that approved the Common Core standards with little fanfare, and on a voice vote.

And he isn’t the only lawmaker who seems to be having second thoughts about the standards. Last week, during a “listening tour” to weigh a possible run for governor, Meridian Republican Sen. Russell Fulcher suggested that the Legislature never considered the standards. But Fulcher was a member of the Senate Education Committee that approved the Common Core rule in 2011.

Acting on legislative and State Board of Education approval, Idaho schools are implementing Idaho Core Standards this fall.

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    Where was Steven Thayn two years ago when the House Education Committee, of which he was a member, approved the Common Core standards? Why has he waited until now to voice his opposition?

    Perhaps Mr. Thayn educated himself about the Common Core and find them lacking. More likely, he has suddenly twigged to the fact that the Common Core is opposed by lots of the right-wing conservatives and Tea Party members who have so loyally voted for him so far, but may not do so in the future if he appears to support Common Core.

    • Matt Walker

      Mr. Wilson. It appears Mr. Thomas (to his credit) was the only one paying attention in 2011. I honestly don’t care of Mr. Thayne had a change of heart…heck, he probably didn’t even know what CC meant. He, like the rest of them probably heard the words..Idaho…47th in the nation…and kids not going to college and said, “well sign me up for whatever will fix this”. Good for him for having a change of heart, and good for everyone else in the ID legislature who takes an honest look at what CC really is and then has a change of heart. As a parent, I can speak for a vast majority of parents when I say that have only recently learned what CC even is. It’s only because of my own research into CC (not Glenn Beck mind you) that I have become disturbed enough to hope my voice might make a difference and perhaps stop CC in Idaho. I hope Mr Thayne, and the rest of them will take another long hard look at this and then vote again. The result won’t be the same..mark my words.

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    Mr. Walker: Please do not spread misinformation, even in support of good ideas. Idaho is not “47th in the nation” in education. Or 48th. Or 49th, unless you are referring to the amount of money it spends per pupil.

    To say that “Idaho is 48th in education” is a meaningless statement, no matter who says it or how often you hear it repeated. 48th by what measure? Assessed in what way? By whom? Until those questions are answered, the statement is utterly irrelevant.

    “Idaho is 48th in education” is a misleading, illogical claim that has been repeated for years now by the Albertson Foundation and KTVB and, more recently, by Don’t Fail Idaho and Idaho Business for Education. It is derived from the technically accurate but hugely misleading statement that “Education Week ranked Idaho 48th in K-12 education.” As used by the Albertson Foundation, KTVB, Don’t Fail Idaho, and Idaho Business for Education, the statement is grossly misleading.

    It is misleading because it is always presented in the context of teacher accountability, labor relations, and learning outcomes as measured by standardized testing, thereby implying that Idaho schools are failures and that teachers are to blame.

    The original statement appears in “Quality Counts,” Education Week’s annual report on state-level efforts to improve public education. The Quality Counts study uses a number of measures in assessing those efforts that have NOTHING to do with teachers accountability, labor relations, or learning outcomes. In short, the report has been hijacked to further the agendas of the Albertson Foundation, KTVB, Don’t Fail Idaho, Idaho Business for Education and others who promote the privatization of public education.

    Specifically, Education Week’s study attempts to measure the following:

    * The Chance-for-Success Index, a combination of “13 indicators that span childhood through adulthood to capture three broad life stages: the early-childhood years, participation and performance in formal education, and educational attainment and workforce outcomes during adulthood.”

    * Transitions and Alignments, “state-policy efforts to better coordinate the connections between K-12 schooling and other segments of the education pipeline, with a particular focus on three critical stages: early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness. This section of the report monitors activity around a set of 14 individual policies, each of which factors equally into a state’s grade. The state’s final score reflects the number of policies a state has implemented.”

    * School Finance, a set of eight school-finance indicators, half of which “encompass school spending patterns, while the other half focus on the distribution of resources within a state.”

    * Standards, Assessments, and Accountability, the topics that have so often been at the forefront of any discussion of school reform in Idaho.

    * K-12 Achievement, as measured by standardized testing in three areas: status, change, and equity.

    * The Teaching Profession, including the efforts of states to attract and retain high-quality teachers and to provide mentoring, leadership, and professional-development opportunities for teachers.

    Clearly, teacher performance and accountability is only a part of the picture painted by Education Week’s analysis, as is the curriculum and accountability that falls under “Standards, Assessments, and Accountabiilty.” What remains are largely matters of public policy established by the governor, the legislature, and local school boards. In many ways, Education Week’s report assesses a state’s commitment to education, not just in word but in deed. From that perspective, it’s far more accurate to say that “Idaho is 48th in the nation in education–when it comes to dedicating sufficient state resources to supporting, financing, and fostering an effective, democratic system of public schools.”