I can’t figure out why the press is misportraying Rep. Elizabeth May’s call for a special session of the Legislature. It is clear to the South Dakota blogosphere, reporter Bob Mercer, and reporter Emily Niebrugge that May and the frustrated social conservatives joining her call want to spend a full day in Pierre rehashing their debate over Common Core. But the AP story that made the rounds Sunday is headlined, “Legislators Call for Special Session to Talk Education Funds.”
The full version of the story even has Rep. May muddying the waters about her intent:
May said that all costs associated with education funding should be considered. That includes the price tag of Common Core, which she said should be accounted for in the “crisis of the funding situation that we are facing in the state of South Dakota.”
“I’m not calling for the end of Common Core,” May said. “But I also am not going to allow them to ignore the fact that there is an expense involved in all of that” [“Legislators Call for Special Session to Talk Education Funds,” AP via KTIV-TV, 2015.07.12].
You are too calling for the end of Common Core, Rep. May. AP, you should not spin a different story. Rep. May has consistently called for the end of Common Core. The elimination of Common Core is an ideological issue, not a fiscal issue, since even May’s allies in fighting Common Core generally say they want to replace these K-12 education standards with other top-down standards, which will cost as much to teach and test and more to implement in the generation of new documents and textbooks and training sessions for teachers.
The easiest way to make Common Core a real fiscal issue would be to argue that we should lock the Common Core standards in place in perpetuity to end the costly policy churn that sees teachers having to digest shiny new standards every decade or so. But Rep. May and friends aren’t doing that, and the press should not pretend they are.
Update 08:25 CDT: But wait! My conservative friends send me the video of the Thursday, July 9 press conference in which Rep. May formally announced their push for a special session. View Part 1 and Part 2 (posted in thrilling vertical-phone layout by Florence Thompson) and decide for yourself what the focus of the special-session call is:
Rep. Elizabeth May:
- “There’s plenty of data out there to show the vast amount of money does not lead to higher quality education.” If that statement signals any desire to fix funding, it’s an ominous signal for the folks paying attention to the free market and thinking we need to raise teacher pay.
- “We know that there’s a high cost associated with Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment, and we also know that those costs are going to be shifted to the local taxpayers.”