Kelsh: Know the law when arguing Common Core
I had the honor to serve as the chairman of the North Dakota House Education Committee for 17 years. During that time, I was instrumental in the rewrite of North Dakota Century Code Chapter 15 and a driving force behind improved and strong educat...
I had the honor to serve as the chairman of the North Dakota House Education Committee for 17 years. During that time, I was instrumental in the rewrite of North Dakota Century Code Chapter 15 and a driving force behind improved and strong education legislation.
I am pleased that our current education leaders continue that commitment today.
With my strong knowledge of both Chapter 15, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), I am confused by recent political statements about Common Core Standards being forced on states against their will. Some politicians - in North Dakota and nationally - get even more outlandish, stating that if elected, they will repeal Common Core.
The truth is, the next governor does not have the authority to repeal Common Core. North Dakota Century Code directs a process for supervision of the development of state academic content standards. There exists no other conflicting citation in the Century Code, placing authority with the governor.
Nor will the next president have the authority to influence state and local decisions regarding education standards. This is thanks to landmark legislation - the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), approved by Congress and signed into law in December 2015. This legislation prohibits Washington from coercing, incentivizing or otherwise encouraging states to adopt specific standards, curriculum and assessments. Importantly, the law also prohibits Washington from encouraging or forcing states to abandon specific standards, curriculum and assessments.
Last year, the North Dakota Legislature, along with 17 other states, voted down legislation to replace the Common Core. Forty-three of the 46 states that adopted Common Core continue to have the standards in place. This is because the standards raise the bar for students and they are working.
North Dakota officials and local educators are currently reviewing and revising the standards to adjust and building upon them to meet students’ needs - exactly as the standards development process in Chapter 15 was designed.
The bottom line is, no governor or president can tell local schools what standards or curriculum they must or must not use. And since the governor’s and president’s jobs are to enforce laws, it’s critically important that anyone running for governor or president fully understands the law as it pertains to education standards and local control.
Local education standards and local control are alive and well in North Dakota and should not be politicized.
The most precious and valuable asset we have in North Dakota is our kids. Voters must elect strong leaders based on fact, not based on false claims made by candidates for which they have no authority. Don’t let rhetoric get in the way of good policy.