Unlike some folks in the State Capitol, Rep. Ben Koppelman (R – District 16) is a fearless advocate for parents. Popularity is not his objective. Doing what he feels is right is. And he has demonstrated that this legislative session on behalf of parents when it comes to their rights to have the final say over their children’s education.
The most notable defeat that Koppelman endured this session was on his bill to end the Common Core State Standards in North Dakota (HB 1432). The atrocious House Education Committee, followed by the majority of the House themselves, stuck with the lying statist’s – Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta – and kept the Common Core State Standards.
Yesterday, Rep. Koppelman took to the House floor to once again battle a Do Not Pass recommendation from the House Education Committee. This time Koppelman rose to debate HB 1389, which would allow parents "to opt a child of the parent out of any survey or testing that is not a part of a curriculum, to which the parent has a philosophical, moral, or religious objection."
House Education Committee member, Rep. Denton Zubke (R – District 39) carried the bill to the floor and explained the committee’s recommendation. Rep. Zubke suggested that with the new federal legislation called Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that this bill was not necessary.
To this, Zubke got an education himself from Koppelman as he read the actual wording from the ESSA that proved HB 1389 isn’t only a good idea, it’s a necessity, because the North Dakota State Century Code specifies that the state superintendent "shall administer" state testing to districts throughout the state. This led school districts across the state to refuse opt out requests from parents. Why? Because there is no opt out language, only the "shall administer" language.
Koppelman then reminded his colleagues that last session they killed an opt out bill with the idea it would be taken up again this session. HB 1389 was that opportunity.
Perhaps the best remarks from Rep. Koppelman was his final statement in which he asked the House to "send a message to parents that we do believe that they have at least some little right to have a say in how their children are educated in our public schools." And isn’t that the ultimate issue at hand in bills such as this? Who has the ultimate say over a child’s education? The state or the parent? The vote was taken and HB 1389 prevailed with a 54-38 majority. Score one for the parents.
On behalf of parents across the state of North Dakota, thank you Rep. Ben Koppelman for being a champion of parental rights in education.
(Editorial Note: HB 1389 will now go to the Senate for consideration. Please contact your reps and encourage them to vote for this bill.)