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January 7 2015

Common Core Debate Heats Up in North Dakota

VIcki Alger

The weather may be icy, but North Dakota tempers are heating up over Common Core.

Several legislators concerned over increasing federal control of education, including the transfer of personal student data being collected through their Common Core testing consortium, have gotten into a lengthy email exchange with Common Core proponents Andy Peterson, president of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, and several leaders of local education associations.

 As Forum News Service’s Jennifer Johnson reports: 

“It’s not the fact that you support Common Core; it’s the ham-handed, deceptive manner you employed in your support,” wrote Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, in an email ... “That approach is to avoid constructive arguments on the merits of the policy, and to use ‘personal politics,’ subterfuge, and an abundance of logical fallacies.” …

Becker said he was disappointed by Peterson’s response to the data privacy question and also by his letter. Peterson should have explained the weaknesses of creating state standards, which can be updated and improved without limit, he wrote. Becker also wrote that Peterson should have calculated and compared the cost of continuing with the standards versus choosing the state’s own and also explained how federal standards would benefit North Dakota.

“Once all of the logical fallacies are stripped away, it comes down to a couple simple points of dissent,” he wrote. “We all want the best education for our kids. Both sides want strong standards. Your position should support why North Dakota shouldn’t go with its own standards if they are an improvement over Common Core.”

Elected representatives and school officials aren’t the only ones taking action, as Johnson continues:

Next month, a public [Stop Common Core in North Dakota] rally is planned at the Capitol, according to organizer Leah Peterson of Fargo. Membership in the group is small but growing, with a Facebook page that currently has 2,482 followers, she said.

“It never ceases to amaze me the new people that come forward,” she said. …

Stop Common Core in North Dakota has also been working to spread the word before the start of the session.

Leah Peterson of Fargo, who has three young children, said she’s most concerned about the standards’ “developmentally inappropriateness” of K-3 education and the loss of local control, among other aspects.

“As far as curriculum goes, it’s being narrowed down by the day,” she said. “What they’re doing is centralizing control and it removes parents from the education process completely.”

Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, has drafted a Common Core opt-out bill. The fate of that measure is still undecided, but increasingly parents and lawmakers are standing up to federal overreach and standing up for parental control in education.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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