Pepto should be kept at the ready for the interview if you wish to listen to it, and that can be done so HERE.
Remember, Rep. Thiesfeldt was a co-chair of the Select Committee on Common Core State Standards, so naturally his reaction when the governor made his statement was of surprise on timing but not on position. Rep. Thiesfeldt said that he heard there were conversations at the National Governors Association conference (read - Koch marching orders), but ultimately the Cedarburg vote was what forced the Governor's hand in making a statement.
The biggest message, again according to Rep. Thiesfeldt, is that the Governor recognized that "across the country, as a whole, seems to be edging the other direction on this now." (Look at what the Cap Times ran this weekend to see why it appears that way.)
When noted that the legislature didn't take action this past session on the Common Core, and that Sen. Education Chair Luther Olsen is very cold on doing anything with Common Core or local control via school board adoption of the standards, Rep. Thiesfeldt said that it really wouldn't matter because this is only affecting state policy and not local district's adoption of standards. He even readily admits that many districts would likely just stay with the Core. (Which begs to ask why should the state politically posture against the will of local districts?)
However, hilarity soon ensued when the representative noted that the timetable for changes to be made on the Smarter Balanced assessments, the Common Core aligned tests that replace the WKCE, was seriously compacted. (NO KIDDING!) He then has the audacity to say:
"if we would've looked at this this past spring and been able to get a vote in the Senate and a vote in the Assembly, and then signed into law, that would've been a much more measured approach to reevaluating the Common Core Standards than what is being suggested by the governor"
The democratic process worked! Rep. Thiesfeldt's just ticked that he didn't get what he wanted.
Remember how the select committees and their options really ended because of the anger over the fact that the legislature would ultimately have had the ability to rewrite whatever standards they were sent by a committee who would've been largely picked by partisan legislatures? Rep. Thiesfeldt's more modest approach then was still too harsh for what the majority of school districts, teachers, principals, and parents wanted. Why would working on a more compact timetable change that or make it more palatable to change the standards or standardized tests that students take?!
And again and again, Rep. Thiesfeldt keeps perpetuating the zombie lie that momentum has shifted nationwide away from Common Core.
When noted that Sen. Fitzgerald, and others, have said that just putting the breaks on this might not be that simple, and that drawing up Wisconsin specific standards is a huge undertaking, Rep. Thiesfeldt can't get out of his head the word Wisconsin. It's all about Wisconsin having Wisconsin standards for Wisconsin's sake, because Wisconsin is Wisconsin, and that the US Department of Education is all bad and responsible for everything wrong with education today and doesn't understand Wisconsin students. It's almost like On Wisconsin should've been playing in the background.
"Well, that's because that's not how we do things in the United States."Oh, well that's good to know. I mean, it's totally 100% awesome that we'll have some states where students learn long division in 3rd grade and other's where it's 5th. No big deal there. Nope, doesn't matter at all that some places only want to hit on some parts of Language Arts, but not others. Oh no, it's just fine, because I'm sure the rest of the damn industrialized world which kicks our butt on all those rankings that we freak out about, I'm sure they think this makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.
"The federal government is only supposed to have, you can look in the Constitution right there, their are 20 powers of the federal government, and education is not one of them."He then goes off onto some wicked revisionist history rant about how the states were all set up be to be laboratories of different ways to do things, and the states would then learn from each other, and how it's been highly successful. (By that logic, didn't the states then just decide that doing individual things in this particular instance didn't make sense? I'll leave that one there...)
"But it's pretty evident that as soon as the federal government's role in education across the country started to take hold, and this goes back to the 50's and just as continued to grow since then, that's when we started to have struggles in our schools nationwide. The federal involvement has hurt schools, it has not helped it, and we need to start going back the other direction"Is he serious? He seriously just said that?
So, what happened with federal school policy in the 1950's? Oh, that's right, Brown V. Board of Education, that's what! You know, equal access to schools! Integrated schools where students weren't separated but instead where everyone had an equal right to access! That's what we've been fighting since the 1950's, it's been our nation's policies for the 300 years before that where everyone was separated and not given the same access to information and resources! THAT'S why the federal government stepped into education.
I'm shocked, I'm honestly shocked that he would say such a thing. No more federal Individuals with Disabilities Act protections for people at public schools. Local units of government can decide whether or not something is suitable to themselves! Oh, you move there and don't fit in? Tough.
Oh, hey Free and Appropriate Education laws! Oh, Johnny needs a wheelchair and is severely cognitively disabled? Maybe he shouldn't go to school, because it's too much of a burden on the community to provide him a full time aid. Maybe he should go to a special school in a different city, or your family could educate him at home? Oh, Suzie needs special help for dyslexia? Well, we can't provide that for her, because we locally have decided to not pay for those services because we have so many other students who need a basketball team.
I cannot believe that someone who very likely will be in the running and could very easily become the ranking Republican on the Assembly Education Committee next session could say something to blatantly racist, privileged, and unintelligent. I've heard some pretty bad policy statements from Rep. Thiesfeldt over the years, but this one really cuts to my core. Public education is a damn civil right, and that right for too long was denied to many people. That's why the federal government got involved in education.
Greg Stensland, the person doing the interview, quickly moves on. You can almost tell there is shock at hearing what he just heard about public education. The final question deals with where this issue goes from here, and Rep. Thiesfelt pretty much just goes over what we already know in that the legislature's out until January and nothing will likely happen until then. However, the weight of what just happened cannot go unnoticed.
Yes, this is the type of person who could very well be shaping education policy in the Assembly come January. Someone who thinks that the federal government's involvement in guaranteeing equal access to education, and who completely disregards the fact that since the 1940's an ever increasing percentage of students go to school longer than 8th grade regardless of family income, is the reason why public education is failing students. If you're not abhorred by the thought of someone like that making decisions that affect our state's students, you're not paying attention.