Wyoming Legislature update – Feb. 18, 2014
by HD Representative Albert Sommers
February 19, 2014
Click here for an audio file of this report (m4a file, 1.5MB, 3:10 mins)
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from the Capital on Tuesday morning. On Monday, we began the budget process, and soon the budget amendment process will begin. This is where individual legislators bring amendments to the budget, in areas where they disagree with the Joint Appropriation Committees recommendations. On Friday evening, the House Education Committee heard and debated HB97, which was brought by the citizens who oppose the Common Core State Standards. I continue to believe that if you create national standards, which the Common Core is, you test for those standards with a nationally standardized test, which is what has currently been proposed in Wyoming when we joined the Smarter Balanced Consortium, and you enforce the standards with a test and kill accountability system, then you run the risk of creating a national curriculum. We need to maintain diversity in education in this nation, and not conform our education system to one method of education. I do not believe that the Common Core math and language arts standards are bad standards. Nearly all of the educators in Wyoming that I have visited with tell me that these standards are better standards than we had in place previously. Standards come and go, like a flavor of the day, and if Wyoming can amend these standards in the future, without intervention, they should help better educate Wyoming students. I do not support Wyoming belonging to a national assessment consortium, because we need to have the ability to develop an assessment with meaningful input from Wyoming educators. HB 97 passed the Education Committee Monday night with my support, but I brought roughly 16 pages of amendments. I wanted the current math and language arts standards to remain in place until 2018, before they could be reviewed, but the committee chose 2016 as a review date. I believe our local districts and teachers have put too much time and money into these standards to have the rug pulled out from under them. I like the formation of an Advisory Council to assist the State Board of Education in reviewing standards, a more open process. The bill would have Wyoming pull out of the Smarter Balance Consortium, but I put an amendment on this section that would require the Advisory Council to provide the State Board with three options for Wyoming’s next generation student assessment, and then the State Board would provide the legislature with their recommendation for which assessment would be best. The legislature has to make this decision, because current law would not allow Wyoming to utilize the Smarter Balance test anyway, due to the way their test is devised. The significant changes to HB97 will require that it be brought back to the floor as a replacement bill. I believe this bill will die in the Senate. Thanks.