Governor Mike Pence (R) of Indiana may have delivered his strongest message yet that his state will drop the Common Core education standards.
During his State of the State address Tuesday, Pence said, “When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high. They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation.”
According to Chalkbeat, up until now, Pence has been somewhat non-committal about his position on the Common Core.
As Breitbart News reported last August, Indiana withdrew from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), its Common Core testing consortium. Both Pence and state superintendent Glenda Ritz (D) agreed with that decision.
Pence has always supported local control of education, even voting against the federal No Child Left Behind law while representing Indiana in Congress.
The Indiana state legislature passed a law last year requiring a review of the Common Core standards. This “paused” implementation of the initiative in the state and required new public hearings and further study of the Common Core.
The law set July of 2014 as the time for a new vote of the Indiana Board of Education regarding the decision to continue with Common Core standards or drop them for new ones that would be written locally.
Last week, a new bill was introduced in the state legislature that would continue the Common Core “pause” for another year.
During his speech, Pence said, “Hoosiers have high expectations when it comes to Indiana schools. That’s why Indiana decided to take a time-out on national education standards.”
Pence’s hinting that the Common Core standards are not quite as “rigorous” as proponents claim is echoed by education experts such as Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core Validation Committee.
Stotsky told Breitbart News, “Everyone was willing to believe that the Common Core standards are ‘rigorous,’ ‘competitive,’ ‘internationally benchmarked,’ and ‘research-based.’ They are not.”
As Chalkbeat reports, Ritz and another Indiana state Board of Education member agreed that the state is likely headed for new, locally written standards.
“There will be a change to what we currently have,” said Ritz. “That’s what we’re doing now. We’re reviewing the standards.”
In addition, Ritz said, “I don’t look at it as Indiana adopting a set of standards. We are looking at individual standards. We’re not looking at carte blanche adoption of every single Common Core standard.”
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), who had been supportive of the standards in the past, has also been suggesting that his state could, in fact, drop them and create its own.
However, there is considerable discussion and, perhaps, disagreement over what exactly “dropping the Common Core standards” means.
State Board of Education member Tony Walker (D) said Indiana cannot totally abandon the Common Core if it writes new standards.
“I think all of our anchor standards will have to be Common Core,” he said. “They have to be. We can’t go it alone. For kids to get into colleges across the country they’re going to have to be aligned to Common Core.”
Walker’s statement reflects the fact that David Coleman, the so-called “architect” of the Common Core standards, and lead author of the English Language Arts standards, is now the College Board president and is ensuring the SAT, ACT, AP, and GED exams are all aligned with Common Core.
Ritz, however, said the focus needs to be on choosing standards and then deciding how to replace ISTEP with a new state test.
“I feel strongly that Indiana will be working on our own assessments,” she said.
As Chalkbeat observes:
That’s significant because a state-sponsored study last year showed Indiana could save more than $1 million of the $34 million it annually spends on testing by using one of the shared tests other states are building rather than making its own test, or hiring a company to make one. It also means Indiana’s state test results will not be comparable to the results in other states, another advantage Common Core proponents tout.
In addition, Ritz dismissed concerns about Indiana students not being able to perform well on college entrance exams that are aligned with Common Core.
“Teachers will teach in order for students to do well on assessments,” she said.
If Indiana abandons the Common Core, it would be a significant reversal since, under former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and the state’s former superintendent Tony Bennett – both strong supporters of the Common Core standards – Indiana was one of the earliest states to adopt them.
Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, has been extremely supportive of Common Core. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is among the most ardent proponents of the standards. The USCC has received grants in the amount of $1,383,041 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which has largely financed the Common Core rollout – during 2013.
Redelman appeared to dismiss the notion that Indiana’s standards would stray far from Common Core.
“A few states have made a few changes but they’ve been minor,” said Redelman. “Even in Virginia and Texas, which are not official Common Core states, everyone who’s been looking at those standards say they look just like Common Core.”