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Report: Experts paid by conservative group to testify against Common Core standards

FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - An arm of the conservative John Birch Society paid to have experts testify against the Common Core academic standards at public hearings in Wisconsin. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the American Opinion Foundation -- a John Birch affiliate -- paid to have a former Bush education official and other academic experts speak for themselves at hearings this month in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Fond du Lac. 

The group said local residents raised $5,500 to cover the speakers' expenses.

It was enough to make Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Christine Sinicki quit the Assembly's special committee on the Common Core standards. She said it's wrong to have extreme national interest groups orchestrate the proceedings. 

Senate Democrat Tim Cullen of Janesville said he's never seen, "the clear attempt to hide" who the speakers were representing. 

Assembly panel chairman Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac said the hearings were "absolutely on the up and up." He said school representatives got taxpayer funding to testify. 

Both houses formed study committees after tea party critics called Common Core a vehicle for a federal takeover of education. 

Wisconsin adopted the standards three years ago without much fanfare, and some Republicans wanted a second look. The standards have been praised by education and business leaders for raising the bar on student achievement.