Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Pro-Common Core Board Member To Vote For New Standards — With Reservations

At the January meeting, board members Sarah O'Brien, left, and Tony Walker expressed their support for the Common Core standards.

Board members Sarah O'Brien, left, and Tony Walker review a presentation at the January meeting.

Indiana State Board of Education member Tony Walker says he plans to vote in favor of proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana.

But Walker says while he believes the new expectations meet the state’s definition of college and career readiness, the new standards aren’t rigorous enough to ensure Indiana students will be able to compete internationally.

“On one level, it seems to be sufficient that students make it into college without needing remediation,” Walker tells StateImpact. “That’s a very different standard than I think what is going to be necessary for students to be successful in the long term.”

Walker, who voted to adopt Common Core in 2010 and has expressed his continued support for the nationally-crafted standards, thinks the entire process has gotten too wrapped up in politics. He says people are more worried about where the new standards came from than whether they will ensure good outcomes in Indiana classrooms.

“I’ve maintained from day one I thought the whole process was ridiculous,” says Walker. “In fact, the politicization has in my mind damaged the final outcome here.”

Common Core opponents rallied before Monday’s Education Roundtable meeting to encourage Gov. Mike Pence to reject the proposed standards. But he praised the new expectations and the process used to create them.

At least one board member, Andrea Neal, plans to vote against the proposed standards. Neal, who was appointed to the State Board last summer, has been a vocal critic of the Common Core.

“When Gov. Pence asked me to go on the State Board of Education last June, I was under the impression he wanted to replace the Common Core with something more rigorous,” she wrote in a statement. “It did not occur to me that we would end up with something even less rigorous than the Common Core.”

Neal has suggested Indiana should return to the math and English language arts standards in use prior to Common Core adoption.

The State Board will vote on the new standards Monday.

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