Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Common Core 'Pause' Proposal Clears Key Hurdle, Faces Final Votes

The windows of the Indiana State Teachers Association building in downtown Indianapolis reflect the lit-up dome of the Indiana Statehouse.

After lawmakers resolved differences between the Indiana House’s and Senate’s respective versions of a lengthy piece of education legislation, language halting implementation of the Common Core academic standards in Indiana schools made it through conference committee Thursday.

While House Speaker Brian Bosma’s Wednesday announcement he supported the “pause” proposal makes this news somewhat less surprising, it essentially means opponents of the nationally-crafted standards have pulled off an improbable end-run around Common Core supporters.

As it emerged from conference, House Bill 1427 prevents schools from doing any further work to implement the standards in their classrooms pending public meetings on the Common Core, a legislative review and a study of the standards’ fiscal impact.

“Shining the light of day on [the standards] and opening it up for folks to have a lot of input, for teachers and parents to have input, for educators to have input — I think is a positive step,” Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, told IPBS statehouse reporter Brandon Smith.

Following the legislative study committee, the bill provides for the State Board of Education to ultimately decide whether to largely re-affirm its support of the Common Core, adopt new standards or implement a modified set of standards based on the Common Core.

Whatever board members decide, the legislation says, they must adopt standards “to the extent necessary to meet the requirements for a federal flexibility waiver” — which means academic standards that focus on preparing students for college or careers.

‘It Doesn’t Mandate Socialism’

House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who killed a Senate bill halting the standards’ rollout earlier this year, told Smith he believes the state will ultimately decide to keep the Common Core largely in place.

“I think if the truth gets out there that it doesn’t mandate socialism and all the other things, the fears that are out there, that it will be shown that it’s not as bad as people think,” Behning said.

Stand for Children Indiana executive director Justin Ohlemiller, whose organization has supported the Common Core, told StateImpact he felt the legislature’s action sent a bad message. He also says he saw irony in the move.

“If these were truly federal or nationally-required standards, then [lawmakers] would not be able to make the decision we’re making today,” Ohlemiller said.

“Teachers and superintendents,” Ohlemiller added, “have been working to implement Common Core, which is a years-long process. To hit the pause button on something this far into the process, with some uncertainty looking into the future, then what you’re doing is putting these standards up for failure, even if there’s a decision made to continue [with the Common Core].”

The bill also precludes the state from using the PARCC assessments — nationally-crafted assessments tied to Common Core — until 2016. That was good news for Erin Tuttle, a leader of the advocacy group Hoosiers Against the Common Core.

“The way the laws are written, teachers and schools are all judged according to how their students do on that test. So for us, maintaining local control of that process was very important,” Tuttle said.

Doors Left Open For Return?

The version of House Bill 1427 that emerged from conference committee must clear the House and Senate one final time before heading to the governor’s desk. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Derek Redelman says he thinks the bill’s passage is now likely.

Redelman, a Common Core supporter, says he’s “very concerned” by the passage of the language. That said, he noted earlier proposals called for the state’s complete withdrawal from the consortium of 45 other states and the District of Columbia who’ve adopted Common Core — this bill does not.

“It’s going to create a whole heck of a lot more work than I think is necessary, and frankly think, in a lot of ways, is just silly to have to go through. But yet it leaves a door open that a lot of previous proposals this session did not,” Redelman said. “Am I happy? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s an absolute disaster? Probably not, either.”

Schneider, reports IPBS statehouse reporter Brandon Smith, says he won’t object if the state Board of Education ends up adopting standards virtually identical to the Common Core in the end.

“If that’s the consensus of the state board and folks that have looked at this over a summer study committee and review and that’s the will of everything moving forward, then I’m okay with that,” he said.

Elle Moxley contributed reporting to this post. This post may be updated as details emerge.

Comments

  • Karynb9

    Does the bill say how long the “pause” is supposed to be? When will the State Board of Ed vote on the standards? Are we looking at a few months or a year or more?

  • Jenny Robinson

    Stand for Children is funded by the Gates Foundation, the Walton family, and folks with ties to Bain Capital (http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_01/26_01_sanchez.shtml). Some of these have a lot to gain by the standardization of the curriculum that the Common Core represents (as they also do by the market-based education reform that SfC advocates for and that is proceeding at such a headlong pace in Indiana). How many teachers and parents does Stand for Children represent? Can they provide a list of Indiana members? I would like to see State Impact identify the organization more clearly. Its name is misleading. The Walton family foundation also helps fund State Impact; does the Gates foundation as well? I have seen that asserted (see Diane Ravitch’s post today) but do not see Gates listed on the State Impact site. The Lumina Foundation, which seems to frequently work in tandem with the Gates foundation, also funds State Impact and appears to have ties with Stand for Children as well. In the interests of full disclosure, I think it would make sense to point out the common funding sources if State Impact turns to a Stand for Children rep for a quote.

    • http://twitter.com/StateImpactIN StateImpact Indiana

      Hello Jenny,
      Here is the list of NPR funders: http://stateimpact.npr.org/supporters/
      This year NPR and its funders payed 30% of the costs associated with our StateImpact Indiana reporting project. WFIU members paid the remaining 70%.
      Sara Wittmeyer
      WFIU/WTIU News Bureau Chief

      • Guest

        Somebody in the education of our children is doing EVERYTHING ALL WRONG when a recent study reveals that:

        *******A
        high percentage of school age students think 1/4 is MORE than 1/2
        because…………….”the 4 at the bottom of the fraction in 1/4 is
        larger than the 2 in 1/2!!

        *******Students cannot read a letter because it is written in ‘cursive’!!

        This is all occurring since the inception of COMMON CORE across the nation!

        INDIANA…YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS!!!

        How
        about a dose of ‘opinion’ on my part: I have absolutely ZERO use for
        Bill Gates because he is a mere puppet for the Obama administration. He
        is a far left leaning individual who will do anything for a BUCK ($).
        You can bet that somehow his pockets are being lined as a result of
        common core being implemented and there is an hidden agenda behind what
        is happening in education across the country. All the while our
        children are being ‘dummied down’ (as is evidenced above w/2 examples)!
        Don’t be fooled!! THAT is the desire and ‘way of the left’. Barack
        Hussein Obama’s ‘community organizing’ skills are being utilized at the
        highest governmental level (s) and if this practice continues, you and I
        will no longer OWN our children but the GOVERNMENT will own and have
        full control of them.

  • ncpg

    The Common Core support never seems to be local, or even in-state. It’s a group of far-away, Bill Gates-funded Leftist puppet masters.

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