Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

What Happened At Common Core Hearing: Four Views On New Academic Standards

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Opponents of the Common Core, a set of nationally-crafted academic standards, rallied at the statehouse Wednesday before a Senate Education Committee hearing.

The Senate Education Committee allotted four hours Wednesday afternoon to a hearing on a proposal to withdraw Indiana from the Common Core, a set of nationally-crafted academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. But testimony lasted well into the evening.

In favor of the proposal: Parents who say the new standards are confusing, education experts who say Indiana’s previous standards were top-notch and conservatives who believe the Common Core will chip away at local control.

Against the proposal: Teachers who say the standards are bringing rigor to their classrooms, business leaders who say Indiana needs more graduates ready for college and career and policy watchers who say Indiana’s old standards weren’t working.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the arguments for and against the proposal. Remember, we want your questions about the Common Core. Send to or tweet @StateImpactIN and let the education reporters track down answers for you.

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, bill sponsor: 

When all roads lead to one test, when all roads lead to the development of one curriculum based on such a holistic change in standards, and those standards are applied evenly over charter schools, voucher-accepting schools, parochial schools and traditional public schools — all of those schools are required to take ISTEP — under Common Core would be replaced with another type of assessment that is specific to the Common Core standards, then we’ve lost a lot of differentiation between a parochial school, a charter school and public school. So there’s a huge threat to choice.

Let me just say this. I know there are a lot of folks that are in the building that are talking about how this is a rollback of some of the education reforms we’ve done in the state of Indiana. I want to say as a supporter of a lot of those education reforms and even a co-author of a lot of those bills, I think that rhetoric is disingenuous.

Robert Scott, former Texas Commissioner of Education (Texas is one of five states that hasn’t signed onto the Common Core): 

Our standards in the state of Texas must be adopted by our elected State Board of Education with the direct input of our parents, teachers and business leaders in our state. Publicly, I took a wait-and-see approach. I told the proponents of the Common Core that would absolutely be happy to take a look at them when they were written, and if something truly remarkable came out of them, I’d work to incorporate them in our state curriculum standards. Unfortunately, it was revealed that states could only deviate from this script by 15 percent, and I quickly learned this wasn’t about collaboration among the states. It was about control, some from the federal government, and some from some education reformers that readily admit that the goal is to create national markets for education service providers and vendors.

Derek Redelman, Indiana Chamber of Commerce:

The Indiana Chamber acknowledges that we don’t have the expertise to cut through all of these arguments. Up until now, the Indiana General Assembly has acknowledged likewise and has charged such decisions to be made by the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education, and accordingly by the people and process employed and engaged with those two entities. As the people here today have acknowledged, that process has worked. We urge you today to let the process continue to work.

Having said all of that, we do acknowledge that Indiana’s adoption of the Common Core did not involve the same extensive processes that were utilized for our previous standards adoptions. Importantly, though, Indiana did not develop Common Core from scratch and on its own as Indiana did with all of its previous standards … those standards were developed by a consortium of states.

Michael Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute executive vice president:

While you have had some of best standards in the country, you have also had one of the worst student achievement records on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. So Indiana has been this classic case of good standards not actually having the impact we were hoping for in the classroom. So it’s clear you need a different way forward. Now, your raft of reforms you’ve passed in the last couple of years are a big part of that, but going back to that status quo isn’t necessarily going to get you what you need.


  • Karynb9

    Question: If we leave Common Core, are textbook publishers going to be willing to write textbooks and curriculum that align with Indiana’s standards? Or will we get the EXACT same Common-Core-based curriculum options that the Common Core states will have, just with a colorful insert in the teacher’s manual that points out how the material kinda/sorta/maybe/if-you-really-stretch aligns with Indiana’s standards?

    Textbook publishers don’t even write Indiana-specific textbooks NOW (they write them to align with the standards of the larger states like California and Texas and New York…and then add some ancillary materials that may help them come in better alignment with our standards, or they just go through and align the material they’ve written for the larger states with Indiana’s standards). The curriculum available to schools in Indiana is going to all be Common Core-based anyway, so why not adopt those standards and assessments officially? For example, elementary reading textbook adoption is going on right now. All of the publishers are sending Common Core-based materials to the schools. Administrators will be deciding over the next month or two which textbook to adopt for their district. So, even if we move away from Common Core after a legislative decision a month from now, Indiana schools are still stuck with Common Core-based reading materials for the next six years. The time for legislative concern about this issue was two years ago, but all of the Republicans were too mesmerized by anything Tony Bennett had to say at that time to dare to question him on these very valid concerns that some of our nationally-applauded present standards were more rigorous and easier to understand than Common Core standards. The proverbial ship has now sailed and trying to go BACK would create too many problems.

  • Jennifer Rife Geiger

    Although I personally have no problem with the Common Core because I work in a school with a high rate of student transience, I do have a problem with scrapping already “top-notch” standards in favor of something else that wasn’t designed by Indiana for Indiana. The standards are not what was broken. We simply need to find how to meet those standards. I am not in favor of selling out control of our public school system by allowing for-profit companies to take over our schools. We can solve our own problems.

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