February 11, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Politics of the Common Core


---- — Over the decades it has been said with respect to a host of social issues, including prayer in public schools, that the U.S. Supreme Court makes a lousy local school board. With regard to academic standards, we are concerned that state legislatures will not do much better.

But at least they are listening to parents and being flexible.

Last week, the Indiana Senate voted to void Common Core academic standards in Indiana schools after local schools districts invested much time and money to prepare for the standards meant to be widely adopted across the United States. The matter now moves to the Indiana House of Representatives for consideration.

As the legislation now stands, the Indiana State Board of Education would write new standards to go into effect July 1.

That wouldn’t be much turnaround time and could mean that Common Core State Standards will be the main body of what the state adopts. We think that is generally all right and, given the investment to date, actually the right thing to do for taxpayers, teachers and students.

The most valid criticism of Common Core in Indiana is that it actually lowered some academic standards in some areas for Hoosier students. To the degree that Senate Bill 91 will allow schools to preserve those higher standards for English and math curriculum than the national Common Core standards adopted in 2010, we support the repeal.

We note that nine other states of the 45 that adopted Common Core are repealing or have considered dumping it.

What we find troubling is the idea that there should not be national standards at all. Can’t we as a nation with a federal Department of Education at least agree that there should be minimum standards that would make a diploma from a high school anywhere in the country meaningful?

While the standards themselves were the biggest problem with Common Core, the most powerful argument among state legislators seemed to be state’s rights.

“SB 91 is a strong statement that we are moving forward, moving away from Common Core, protecting Indiana sovereignty and student data,” said Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, author of the bill.

We don’t think an agreed upon set of standards, which individual states can clearly back away from, endangers state sovereignty over its schools. We think that argument is an appeal to fear that is not justified by simply sharing standards and methods with the rest of the union.

The ability to control our own schools in Indiana has been far more endangered by the injection of federal funding in public schools to develop specific programs. But few object to the arrival of money from Washington. We don’t expect that to change.

— Chronicle-Tribune, Marion

THE ISSUE Common Core. OUR VIEW Federal funding continues to endanger our state's ability to control its own schools.