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Ten Reasons for Democrats to Bring HB 1223, Common Core Repeal, to House Floor

Last updated on 2015.02.24

I got no support from my fellow Democrats last week when I urged them to vote for House Bill 1223 and end the state's involvement in Common Core. My fellow Democrats now have a chance to rectify that error by supporting Rep. Dan Kaiser's effort to resurrect that bill and bring it to the House floor for debate. House Democrats—all 12 of you!—here are my top ten ten reasons for you to back HB 1223:

  1. HB 1223 fights the teacher shortage: get teachers out from under the paperwork involved with state standards, and you make teaching more appealing.
  2. HB 1223 isn't a pay raise, but it will take one item out of the list of burdens that make teachers say, "They don't pay me enough to do this stuff."
  3. Republicans aren't going to offer any other legislation for substantive improvements in K-12 education. Bring HB 1223 to the floor, and turn it into a filibuster on the administration's general failure to live up to its obligations to our kids and our teachers.
  4. The Daugaard Administration opposes HB 1223. Oppose the Governor. Make him spend more political capital to oppose the conservatives who support this bill.
  5. Bringing this bill to the House floor and keeping your seats forces Republican leaders to speak in favor of Common Core. The more often our Howie/Nelson-flavored conservative neighbors hear GOP leaders saying, "Common Core is good," the more those real conservatives will organize and recruit primary candidates, which will be nothing but fun for us.
  6. The arch-conservatives who back HB 1223 generally hold the greatest fear and loathing of Democrats. HB 1223 is a low-impact way to show them that Democrats aren't pointy-horned devils.
  7. Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-4/Watertown) is peddling the line that you can't reject a bad policy without offering a workable replacement. That's the same argument Republicans used to push Governor Daugaard's merit pay plan three years ago. We should reject bad logic like that whenever we get the chance.
  8. But if Rep. Deutsch and Secretary Schopp insist that we have to have a replacement plan, give 'em what they want: propose an amendment to repeal all state-mandated curriculum standards and standardized tests. Essentially you'd be calling Republicans' bluffs on local control and suggestions of getting rid of the Department of Education.
  9. Take away curriculum standards, and Republicans won't be able to write creationism or other nonsense into those standards.
  10. Take away curriculum standards, and you reduce the Department of Education's leverage over local schools. And as long as Republicans control the Department of Education, isn't that reduction of leverage a good thing?

Go ahead, Dems! Back the smokeout, and use HB 1223 to rattle some cages.


  1. Dave Baumeister 2015.02.23

    As usual, Cory's logic is flawless. And any Democrat who does NOT vote to back the smoke-out is very foolish and will prove that it doesn't matter that we only have one party representing the people of South Dakota in Pierre. No matter what anyone thinks of Common Core, is it ever a good idea to summarily end debate on a controversial matter? If so, then Democrats in Pierre, every time the Republican-driven committees do that to your proposed legislation then you must agree they aren't doing anything wrong, and that your legislation should not be debated in open session.

  2. Fred Deutsch 2015.02.23

    Eh, that's District 4, my friend.

  3. Les 2015.02.23

    Can't reject bad policy until you have an equally bad or possibly better policy? Same thought process that left the children with the Mette family for years.

  4. Donald Pay 2015.02.23

    Those ten reasons are mostly irrelevant. As a debate tactic it might work to load up on irrelevant points, to make people chase out the nonsense, but this isn't high school debate. Our kids' education is too important for these kinds of games. Point 5 is at least semi-interesting, but it's just more game-playing.

  5. larry kurtz 2015.02.23

    Mr. Pay, it looks like Cory's real plan is to use HB1223 to drive a wedge between Gov. Daugaard's tongue and a few GOP cheeks.

  6. grudznick 2015.02.23

    Yes, Mr. H is going to play that like a fretted clavichord and make all the legislatures and the Governor look silly.

  7. Dr. Math 2015.02.23

    I disagree vehemently with you on this, Cory. The Common Core will help our children become good problem solvers, which is necessary in an ever-changing world.
    And all of your reasons are political with no mention of what is best for the future of education in this state. Teachers that I talk to support the Common Core, and even more importantly my pre-service teachers support the Common Core!

  8. grudznick 2015.02.23

    All the teacher unions and even the fat cat administrator groups are behind this common core. I have never understood the fringers hate for this thing but then I don't think it's as important to worry about as they do. Seems harmless enough to me.

  9. Stace Nelson 2015.02.23

    Great article Mr "H!"

    In my humble experience, it was not the conservatives that loathed Democrats. It was the moderates and former Democrats that held the most animosity for them. I perceived it to be a compensation issue. I personally enjoyed serving with all the Democrats, despite our honest differences, and parted ways with them all as friends.

  10. grudznick 2015.02.23

    If Dr. Math and Mr. Nelson share a desk at the legislatures in a year or two it will be fun to see.

  11. Fred Deutsch 2015.02.23

    52 email from SD educators to date - 3 ask that I vote to eliminate CCSS, 48 ask that I vote to retain them.

    PS - none identified which political party they belong to.

  12. Jana 2015.02.23

    Thanks for that input Mr. Deutsch, did you ask those that took the initiative to contact you why they wanted to keep or eliminate CCSS?

    Hoping that none were your math teacher that pointed out that 48 + 3 = 51...kidding. Guessing the other one voted none of the above.

    I am conflicted on CCSS, but should it be voted out, it would represent a monumental failure of the current and past Governors and an incredible waste of taxpayer money and the time of both teachers and administrators.

    If CCSS is voted out, I would hope that those responsible for bringing it to South Dakota would be held to account. Of course we all know that Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment...pretty sure it is in Dan Kaiser's Bible...would prevail and no one would say a negative word of the Governors who "ham fisted" this on South Dakota and instead blame Obama. (He's the black president who was born in Kenya, a Muslim terrorist fist bumper and doesn't love America for those not familiar with him)

    I would also point out that 52 teachers represent 0.5% of teachers in the state and would caution you that making a decision on this small sampling would be flawed.

    However, if it only takes 52 emails to swing your vote...well let's see what 52 emails could do on some other bills.

  13. Fred Deutsch 2015.02.23

    Darn math . . . :>

  14. Travis Wicks 2015.02.23

    In my opinion as an elementary teacher, Common Core standards are more extensive and strenuous than the previous standards. I find no flaw in wanting to use the best research based methods available to instruct students. My issues with Common Core have nothing to do with the standards. What I disagree with is the method of assessing the success of implementing those standards through a standardized testing process, aka the Smarter Balanced Tests.

    I began teaching at the beginning of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was also when the state dropped the SAT-9 and began using the Dakota STEP tests. In the years that have followed, the only measure of educational success that has seemed to matter to people in power (who a vast majority seem to have no actual professional experience with the public education system) is the results of a universal standardized test.

    In the wake of this, the goal of education has shifted from teaching students to be innovative thinkers and creative problem solvers to being prepared to do well on a standardized test that is designed to be a
    one size fits all" type of assessment. Unfortunately for that, children learn in many different ways and in different paces.

    The powers that be want to be able to say definitively whether or not our educators are doing a good job. I can understand how people who would assess success in a business environment that is based primarily on productivity and efficiency would think that we should look at education success in the same way. The easiest, and perhaps the only tangible way (hard data!) to determine productivity and efficiency of teachers is to test the students and see how they do when all students take the same exam.

    Now, I, as an educator, do not see success in terms of how well my students perform on a standardized test. I do not evaluate my success on the number or A's on my students' report cards. I have students that come into my classroom with different strengths, abilities, and educational readiness. How can I expect each student to reach the exact same goal when they don't start at the same place or have the exact same tools to get there? I can't.

    What I do to gauge my success as a teacher is to see where each of my students are as learners when they arrive into my class, and see the amount of progress they make while they are my students. I take more joy in a student who struggles with spelling getting 85% on a spelling test than I do from a straight A student who gets his/her 6th consecutive 100% on that same test. I will celebrate that 85% just as much as I will the 100%.

    Now, how do you extrapolate that philosophy on teaching into verifiable hard data that a standardized test can give? I don't know, but I know which one matters more to me.

    I have always believed in teaching a concept to students in as many different ways as possible until each student comprehends it at an independent level. This seems to apply most often to math instruction for me. I like that Common Core math standards have shown me new ways to learn a concept. It has helped me be more effective as a teacher.

    What I don't like is that the students aren't just tested on being able to solve a problem, but being able to solve it in a very specific way, and that eliminates students who are perfectly capable and competent, but struggle with the specific method that Common Core has determined to be the only way worth assessing. I disagree with that vehemently.

    In the end, I do not teach to a standardized test, no matter what the test is based on. I root for my students to succeed on those tests, and try to help them prepare for it to the best of their abilities, but I do not put any stock in the results of those test being an accurate measuring stick for assessing my abilities and performance as a teacher. I just hope my students learn how to be lifelong learners capable of utilizing whatever method and resource available to them in order to succeed as future adults.

    Sorry for the diatribe, that's just my very windy two cents. :)

  15. Travis Wicks 2015.02.23


    "All the teacher unions and even the fat cat administrator groups are behind this common core. I have never understood the fringers hate for this thing but then I don't think it's as important to worry about as they do. Seems harmless enough to me."

    Are you referring to any specific teacher unions or administrators in this statement? Maybe it's because I teach in a small district, but I don't javen't seen any of these groups having the kind of power to be pulling any of these strings.

  16. leslie 2015.02.24

    thx 4 yer incite, travis. well spoken

  17. Troy 2015.02.24


    I very much agree with your larger point: Common Core Math is more rigorous and glad it has added to your teaching.

    A couple of comments:

    1) Math is more than getting the answer right. It us understanding the concept so it can be built upon for more advanced concepts. Thus, finding the answer a particular way is necessary to insure the concept is understood.

    2) One of the great things about Math and testing is Math is easily measurable. Duh. :) I agree though we might be so in love with testing and measuring we are forgetting why we are testing and measuring. A carpenter doesn't measure a board to prove he can measure but that the board when cut serves the intended purpose.

    First, I think it is to assess whether or not the students have adequate understanding of the subject matter so they can succeed at a higher level. Like the carpenter, did they learn what they needed to for the intended purpose (advance to the next level and succeed).

    Second, I think it should be feedback to the teacher (current and next years). If a student (or many students) aren't getting a particular concept, the current teacher can either go back over that section or possibly reform the method of teaching that concept, intervene with the student direct, involve parents or some other enhancement strategy.

    And, next year's teacher should be able to look at Jack's scores and see he is weak in this area and be prepared for it before he fails. And, with Jane, the teacher might see she has a particular strength to give her even a higher challenge there.

    In any case, thanks for what you do Travis. I come from a teaching family (mom, two daughters) so I know so well all you do for our children.

  18. larry kurtz 2015.02.24

    Why Democrats continue to live in South Dakota remains a mystery.

  19. Travis Wicks 2015.02.24

    Actually, Troy, my larger point is about how standardized test results aren't a highly accurate way to determine teacher effectiveness.

    I do agree with the principle of scaffolding skills; you start with a foundation that you need to have in order to build up to more complex skills and concepts. Math is a perfect example of this.

    Where I differ in my view is that there is more than one way to teach / build that skill in a student that are equally successful. I have to do that for some of my students to get a concept, such as long division, or turning decimals into fractions. The basic process is the same, but there are a few different paths you can take to get there. Common Core doesn't do a good job taking that into account, in my opinion. That is the only real "beef" I have with Common Core, and it only really becomes an issue for me with the assessment aspect of Common Core

    larry kurtz, democrats such as myself still live in South Dakota because we cannot change what's wrong in our state by leaving for "greener pastures.," I stay not for how I benefit from living here, but for how I can make things better for everyone. That's why I became a teacher to begin with, certainly not for the esteem and lucrative earning potential!

  20. leslie 2015.02.24

    troy, geo. bush was the son of a WWll pilot, president and had EVERY privilege available. he paints dogs now

  21. tara volesky 2015.02.24

    Travis and Larry, yes we can change SD. The ball is in your court. And Cory,
    get in the game.

  22. Troy 2015.02.24

    I think we agree Travis. Techniques to get to the end point can differ and be tailored to individuals. Math is about more than getting the answer right. Sometimes it is learning to do it in a particular way so one can grasp the advanced concept.

    I remember well with regard to my two daughters. Both said a lot "the teacher says my way works and is ok." With my older, I often forced her to do it multiple ways because I saw she wasn't getting the point of the question. With the younger, I lost my energy. Older became a math mind. Younger gave up on math.

    What I like about Common Core is focuses more on the concepts and multiple methods and not just getting the questions right.

  23. leslie 2015.02.24

    i may be wrong, but i don't think he agrees w/ your smarmey attempts to speak for him, troy.

  24. Troy 2015.02.24


    Kinda funny you'd say I'm talking for Travis and then do so.

    Anyway, Travis' larger point is he doesn't think the testing is a good gauge of teacher effectiveness. I agree. I think testing is primarily about measuring WHAT the child is learning and what they are not. I presume we have good teachers.

    Good teachers will take the information and see the students are doing well in this area and properly discern the technique is working well here. But, in this area, it seemed not to work so well. I need to do something different.

    And, next year's teacher can say, they seem to be strong here so I don't have to spend as much time on this but I need to spend more time here.

    Finally, they can say most of the class is good here but Sally isn't so I need to be aware of this shortcoming. And, with Billy, I need to be aware of this one.

    If the current testing doesn't do something in one area, a good teacher like Travis will be aware he is getting no feedback positive or negative in that area and act accordingly.

  25. leslie 2015.02.24

    troy, [...], i said "i may be wrong" and then gave my opinion. spin me, spin travis, thats what u do.

  26. leslie 2015.02.24

    wiping troy's "smarmey" off of my sleeve

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.24

    (Rep. Deutsch, I apologize for the district misattribution! I have fixed your "4".)

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.24

    As a demonstration of my ineffectiveness, Rep. Kaiser's smokeout of HB 1223 failed today on a 31–39 vote. Only one Democrat out of the twelve in the House, Rep. Dennis Feickert, voted to bring the bill to the floor for debate.

  29. grudznick 2015.02.24

    Don't be too hard on yourself, Mr. H. Nobody thinks you had anything to do with the failure of Mr. Kaiser to do a smoke out on that bill. Common Corps lives on and all the teacher groups supporting it can chalk up a win on their black boards with their dustless school chalk.

  30. leslie 2015.02.24

    grudz-you are funny, not that i care about your dustless chalk knowledge, but do you know of stevie wonder's popularizing the clavinet, an electronic version of your fretted keyboard?

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.25

    Chalk? I haven't had to use a chalkboard since my first year at Montrose, which was the last year Montrose used its old high school building before its demolition. I think No Child Left Behind banned chalk after strong lobbying from the dry-erase marker industry....

  32. Jana 2015.02.25

    It's amazing that Kaiser's bill didn't pass given that it is causing the deaths of children on the reservation! Thanks again Republicans in Pierre for showing SD as a leader in the crazy department.

    "On Tuesday, South Dakota state Rep. Elizabeth May (R) claimed the Common Core State Standards were partly responsible for the death of eight children on a South Dakota Native American reservation. (Her remarks start at 21:10.)

    May’s comments were made on the House floor before a vote to consider a bill to repeal the standards in South Dakota. She said, “We’ve buried eight kids down on that reservation in the last week. We need to sit up and pay attention. I’m not naive enough to think the Common Core is the… is what’s causing all of this, but it’s part of the effect. We’ve got teachers down there who have just quit teaching it.”

    I can't even believe that the state's media missed this gem. Wait, they weren't there or are they just numb from too much crazy.

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