The Germantown, Wisconsin, school board rejected implementation of Common Core Standards and has been rewarded with a waiting list of students who wish to enroll in the Germantown schools.
Brian Medved, Germantown school board member, explained that “eliminating Common Core did not happen overnight. It resulted from a culmination of events.” Those events included electing a school board dedicated to the citizens rather than simply being a rubber stamp for district leadership. Citizen involvement and support is required if school boards are going to take such bold moves according to Medved.
Medved explained that once the Superintendent of Germantown schools realized that all recommendations would be subject to a board performing due diligence and researching the pros and cons to each decision, the Superintendent resigned.
Teachers and parents are supporting the board’s efforts to protect the interest of the public. The list of students wanting to enroll in the district has increased by 25% according to Medved.
The Germantown district encouraged citizen involvement by providing public hearings and open forums. When Dr. Stotsky was invited to discuss the success Massachusetts has had with her English standards, the district meeting room was packed with parents and citizens who expressed support for replacing Common Core Standards with more challenging standards that have a record of improving academic progress for students. Germantown is considering adopting Dr. Stotsky’s English standards and a TIMSS based math curriculum as a baseline for developing a “Germantown Model” set of standards, according to Medved.
This will not cause financial problems for the district because Germantown did not purchase Common Core aligned texts. Once the new standards are written, the district will use current dollars budgeted for new texts to purchase curriculum that will meet the expectations of the citizens of Germantown and meet the need of the students in Germantown.
Increased use of technology will be saving the district a lot of dollars normally spent on heavy, quickly outdated textbooks. Medved stated that the district will be relying on the Chromebook, a new, faster computer textbook that is inexpensive to update.
According to Mr. Medved, the Germantown district is considering opting out of the federally aligned tests. If the district finds it cannot opt-out, it will be up to the parents to opt their children out of the testing. Germantown schools would prefer continuing using the MAPS tests to assess student progress. Germantown is working with legislators to obtain a waiver from testing and for finding alternative ways to report progress in the state report card.
By exercising local control of schools, Medved believes that teachers are being empowered, being treated as professionals, and are enjoying a positive working relationship with community members. Teachers and school board members will be working together to write curriculum. The rough draft will be presented to the community for their input, and then the final draft will be created. Mr. Medved explained that this process “unifies district educators and the public. Greater trust and respect is developed and a superior educational program is created. Everyone, especially the students, benefit.”
This process takes time and a lot of effort. Medved strongly recommends that citizens get involved at the local level, reclaim their rights under state statutes governing local control of schools, and protect the futures of the children in their communities.