Will Indiana or South Carolina Be First to Ditch Common Core?

Will Indiana or South Carolina Be First to Ditch Common Core?

While Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) seemed to hint this week that his state would drop the Common Core standards, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) gave a clear signal Thursday that she was determined to drop the new education initiative that has grown intensely controversial.

“We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children,” said Haley, according to Education Week, during a speech to Republican women.

Haley, who is up for re-election this year, told the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club, “We are telling the legislature, ‘Roll back Common Core. Let’s take it back to South Carolina standards.'”

The Common Core standards were adopted by South Carolina in July of 2010, prior to Haley’s election as the state’s governor.

South Carolina Senate Bill 300, introduced in January of last year, states:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.

Though Common Core proponents often say the initiative to implement the standards was “state-led,” no citizen-elected state legislature voted for it. Instead, state Boards of Education – the members of which, in most cases, are not elected by their state’s citizens – adopted them with little, if any, public debate or media inquiry.

Haley said that if Senate Bill 300 reaches her desk, she “absolutely will sign it.”

Nevertheless, neither the state Senate measure nor a similar one introduced in the South Carolina state House have gotten very far.

If a measure does pass, however, it appears Haley would be taking a bolder approach than Pence who has been measured about his state’s backing away from Common Core.

During his State of the State speech 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.” 

The statement was Pence’s strongest message yet that his state could ditch Common Core. However, Indiana has decided to “pause” implementation of the initiative for the second time, suggesting a hesitance to finally part with the controversial standards.

In the annual speech, Pence referred to Indiana as taking “a time-out on national education standards.” The state has been undertaking a review of the standards during the “pause.”

Under the direction of former Indiana superintendent of schools Tony Bennett, the state adopted the Common Core, but Hoosiers later rejected Bennett in his re-election bid. Bennett then accepted a post as Florida’s education commissioner but resigned in August over a school grading controversy in his home state of Indiana.

According to knoxnews.com, the South Carolina Republican Party executive committee unanimously passed a resolution on December 16th calling for the state’s leaders to withdraw from the Common Core initiative. The resolution declared that the decision by the state’s Board of Education to adopt the standards:

…obliterates South Carolina’s constitutional autonomy over education in English language arts and mathematics, placing control in the hands of the federal government and unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C.

Although a number of education experts have said the Common Core standards are not, in fact, “rigorous” benchmarks that will help students achieve “college and career readiness,” both Indiana and South Carolina have lawmakers who remain hesitant to abandon an initiative in which they have invested both time and money.