West Virginia 2016 Legislative session – HB4014
by angela summers 04.09.2016
Although HB 4014 came forward in the House Ed Committee as a full repeal of common core with a standards development process outside the control of the state board, a withdraw from Smarter Balance, and codification of parental opt out rights, the final version of the bill lost most of its teeth.
The final version of HB 4014 was not a full repeal. Nor did it remove the state board control, or codify parental rights…but it did withdraw WV from the Smarter Balance testing and it contained language that would help to dismantle the common core standards. It was a step forward, and it apparently had enough teeth that it caused the WV State Board to issue an emergency resolution to the legislature and the governor demanding rejection of the bill.
On the last day of the session, HB 4014 passed both houses with only 4 of the 134 WV legislators voting against it. Presented with a bill with massive bipartisan support, the Governor, who has never publicly acknowledged the parental outcry – had apparently only pretended to negotiate with legislative leaders. In the end, Governor Tomblin, acting true to form as the puppet he has become, bowed to the will of the state board and vetoed HB 4014, with no time left for override.
Our Republican led House and Senate could have veto-proofed a common core repeal bill just like they did for Right To Work and Prevailing Wage in the 2016 session. But to veto-proof a repeal bill, they would have had to have a bill ready at the beginning of the session, get it passed quickly by both houses with time to override the Governor’s veto. They could have, they should have, but they didn’t.
I believe the failure to do so did not come from a lack of commitment to repeal. After all the Senate President , running for Governor, had campaigned across the state for the past year declaring we would repeal common core. Knowing the legislative session comes before we go to the polls in November, surely he would not be foolish enough to make this declaration at numerous luncheons, dinners, or picnics, and really not be committed to it.
No, the failure came because the legislative leadership and most legislators underestimated the depth of the Common Core issue. Repealing Common Core is not just about throwing out some educational standards. It is about having a plan to replace those standards with proven high-quality standards – and that is just the beginning of the debate.
It is about eliminating high stakes standardized testing, choosing a simple appropriate achievement assessment, denying the collection and disbursement of student data, and it is about allowing parents their right to direct their child’s education.
And repealing common core is about the realization that we have allowed our state school board to become the unaccountable, unelected, 4th branch of government – completely entrenched in common core and answerable to no one in our state – a state board bowing only to the U.S. Department of Education who has now consumed our state sovereignty. And it is recognizing that the state board will never have an honest conversation about common core. Just as they falsely claimed to repeal common core in 2015, they will continue to deceive and manipulate information to maintain their powerful position.
If we are to win this common core war… if we are to save our kids from a cradle-to-grave-tracking-federally-run school system, age inappropriate prescriptive standards and inhumane abusive unreliable testing…if we are to preserve our literature, our history, and prepare students for STEM and the arts, we must now have leadership that has learned its lesson – leaders who’s fundamental belief is that common core repeal, parental rights and state sovereignty are not negotiable.
We must have legislators who recognize the depth of this issue, the entrenchment and deceptive tactics of the state board, and legislators who will stand strong in opposition to the federal government’s intrusion into our classrooms – even if it means turning down a federal dollar when attached to power usurping conditions. We need legislators who are willing to get into the deep weeds to do something about this.
It is a huge task, a tall order, a monumental demand by WV parents, and a battle we must not lose. If we lose, we are going to lose our children. If we lose our children, we have lost our nation.
Are our kids worth this battle?
Is America worth it?