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SD House votes 'no' on Common Core rewind

The South Dakota House of Representatives narrowly defeated a resolution Wednesday that would have to halt implementation of Common Core education standards in the state. (File photo)

By Nora Hertel

PIERRE (AP) — A slim majority of the South Dakota House rejected a resolution Wednesday to halt expansion of the Common Core State Standards on Wednesday.

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The measure failed 35 to 31. A few dozen constituents attended the session, including many supporters of the resolution wearing red shirts.

In 2009 the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers developed the Common Core benchmarks for K-12 students in math and English. Forty-five states adopted the standards soon after their creation. South Dakota schools began implementing the standards this academic year.

Republican Rep. Jim Bolin, of Canton, is a prime sponsor of the bill and called the standards an "educational monstrosity." He delivered impassioned testimony twice during an hour-long debate. Bolin described the standards as a step toward federalization. The bill urges the South Dakota Board of Education to stop further expansion of the standards and to establish a plan to end the state's involvement with the standards by June 30, 2017.

"You don't get into a mess overnight, and you don't get out overnight," Bolin said about the three year transition away from Common Core.

Rep. Kristin Conzat, R-Rapid City, said she was still on the fence about the standards. She asked her colleagues to "sift through all the nonsense on both sides."

Conzat and Rep. Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City, both acknowledged that legislators had always trusted the state Board of Education to choose standards for the state's schools. Sly defended the standards.

"Did you know about the standards from the 1980s, '90s and 2000s?" Sly asked, "We've never taken an interest in that."

Opposition to the standards in South Dakota and other states, including Wisconsin and Indiana, has led to legislative challenges. Last week a South Dakota Senate resolution failed to get a two-thirds majority needed to conduct a two-year study of the Common Core standards. But the Senate did pass two related bills. One would prevent expanding Common Core standards to other academic subjects until July 2016, while the second seeks to protect the privacy of student records.

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