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Education Committee Considers Licensing, Halting Common Core

Members of the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development committee hear and discuss several proposed bills on Jan. 9, 2013.

An effort to halt implementation of the Common Core educational standards is back on after the Indiana Senate’s Education Committee on Wednesday revived it in a House bill.

The Senate passed legislation earlier this session that would pause implementation of the Common Core, a nationally-crafted set of academic standards adopted by 45 states. But the bill stalled in the House, leading the Senate Education Committee to amend the language into a House measure.

Under the amended bill, the state would halt implementation of the standards until a series of public hearings is held at the Statehouse. A legislative study committee would develop a recommendation and submit it to the state Board of Education, which still has the final say on Common Core’s fate.

House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning says he is not opposed to holding public hearings on Common Core.

“But don’t stop implementation because we’re two and a half years into implementation,” Behning says. “I don’t think it’s fair to educators to play politics with things like standards.”

Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), who authored the original Common Core bill, says despite Behning’s objections, he thinks the full House will back his plan.

“The majority of folks that I have talked to on both sides of the building, and on both sides of the aisle, for that matter, are in support of doing that stops further implementation and gives us a thorough review and an ability for us to look at everything,” Schneider says.

Schneider says he is confident the House will simply concur with the amended bill and avoid a conference committee where Behning might have more influence.

Bill Would Relax Superintendent Licensing Requirements

The Senate Education Committee also approved in its meeting a bill that would give Indiana school boards greater flexibility when hiring superintendents.

The bill, already passed by the House, would no longer require school superintendents to be licensed as superintendents or teachers. The measure’s supporters say it will allow school boards to look for people with specific skills, such as a scenario in which a board might want an incoming superintendent with financial expertise to get the district’s budget in order.

Kelly Bentley of the group Democrats for Education Reform-Indiana says that kind of flexibility is especially important in big school districts.

“Larger districts, in particular, need people who have more diverse talents since they are expected to run a multi-million dollar organization,” Bentley says.

But Department of Education Legislative Affairs Director John Barnes says loosening the requirements so much could open the door to cronyism and nepotism.

“Where there might be enough concern about cost that the view would be, ‘Well, we can work out a deal with somebody who maybe had formerly held a political office. We’ll hire them on for much less money and get it taken care of that way,'” Barnes says.

The bill narrowly passed the committee by a six to five vote and now heads to the full Senate.

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