Pharos-Tribune

April 8, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Doubts about Common Core doubts


Pharos-Tribune

---- — It wasn’t the most solid week in the movement to swap out the school standards known as Common Core State Standards for a homegrown set of measures in Indiana.

Sure, the General Assembly was able to get a bill to Gov. Mike Pence last month to scrap the set of college-readiness standards introduced during former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration and incorporated in federal education policy championed by President Barack Obama.

That bill was born out of growing distrust of the federal reach into state education policy, which eventually overtook the initial grumbling from teachers about Common Core’s makeup. Pence promised to create new Indiana standards that were “uncommonly high.”

But on the sidelines, where governors across the nation are watching to see how the Common Core story plays out here, Indiana’s defiance was getting the once over.

First, stories came about how Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’d spoken with Pence about the school standards philosophy: “In essence, they’re saying they’re creating what’s called the Indiana Core. It’s not the Common Core ... but their standards are almost mirroring exactly what is commonly referred to as the Common Core standards.”

Pence’s folks quickly tried to walk that back, saying Herbert didn’t get the essence or the facts of the conversation correct. Pence reassured everyone that he wasn’t into simply rebranding Common Core and calling it a day.

Then came this, from Tony Bennett, Indiana’s former superintendent of public instruction. In an interview with Chalkbeat Colorado, Bennett seemed to call the entire anti-Common Core movement into question. If only, he said, he’d called the standards something different.

“I always told my staff, it was one of my greatest mistakes in office: I should have re-branded those things as the Hoosier Standards for College and Career Readiness,” Bennett said.

As for Common Core opponents at the Statehouse, Bennett told Chalkbeat: “I am not certain some of the legislators I’ve dealt with who are opposed to Common Core could stand up and tell you why they’re against Common Core.”

That’s been the political, out-of-classroom angle of the Common Core debate: Are the standards poor because they don’t make sense academically or are they poor because the Obama administration likes them?

Pence and the State Board of Education will be on the spot to show how these new, “uncommonly high” standards are different and better. Otherwise, Indiana’s simply playing with food on the educational plate.

— (Lafayette) Journal and Courier