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From Common Core to … communism?

PIERRE — The Common Core standards are “a sham and a lie” meant to transform “a free America” to “world socialism and communism,” a woman told the state Board of Education on Monday.

At the end of its meeting, the board allowed Florence Thompson, of Caputa, 15 minutes to speak about the national standards being used in the state’s public schools. She gave yellow folders to board members containing a written copy of her testimony and 11 other articles by various authors across the country.

“Common Core has been called a Trojan horse,” she said. “As the state Board of Education, you have a sacred obligation to future generations to look inside this Trojan horse and see with clear eyes what is really there.”

Board members appeared to listen to her remarks, but the only response she received was silence. Her appearance marked the third consecutive state board meeting at which Common Core opponents spoke.

The board adopted Common Core in 2010 after a public hearing and isn’t reversing course, and the first achievement tests based on Common Core will be conducted this year.

After the meeting Monday, Thompson said opponents would try to get the Legislature to overturn Common Core this winter. Sen. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, said last week he would sponsor repeal legislation.

Thompson, who said she is a retired school psychologist, wanted to be a legislator.

She ran in a five-way primary in June 2012 for the two Republican nominations to the House of Representatives from District 30. She finished fifth, while Republicans Mike Verchio, of Hill City, and Lance Russell, of Custer, were re-elected.

Last week, the state Senate failed to pass legislation that would have created a panel to evaluate Common Core and deliver a report to the Legislature and the governor by Dec. 1, 2015.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, said the evaluation was a way for all sides to present information about Common Core. The vote was 18-16 in favor, but the bill needed a two-thirds majority of 24 ayes because it contained an appropriation for the panel’s expenses.

Thompson, speaking to a reporter Monday, said the panel was a ruse intended to endorse Common Core.

Otten, a first-term legislator, was one of the Senate’s most conservative members last year. Thompson said his allegiance can’t be trusted now, because he’s been appointed chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee for the 2014 session.

Asked what would have been necessary to support Otten’s bill, Thompson said “50-50,” that is, half of the membership would have to be from the Common Core opposition, she said.

Most of the 25-member board, as established in the legislation, was to be appointed by the governor.