Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Core Question: Who Supports The Common Core?

Mizanthrop / Flickr

What questions do you have about the Common Core, the nationally-crafted academic standards adopted by Indiana and 44 other states.

StateIm­pact is answering reader-submitted questions about the Common Core, a new set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in math and English at each grade level. Indiana is one of 45 states that have fully adopted the Common Core.

Today, we’re answering a question we received from an audience member at the Common Core panel we hosted earlier this month:

Please explain the dynamics of the current battle in the statehouse over Common Core. What groups are opposed and why?

Indiana signed onto the Common Core in 2010 and is on track to fully implement the new academic standards by the 2014-15 school year. But in schools where teachers are already using the standards, some parents say Common Core homework looks radically different. That’s led to pushback against the new standards.

With such an active discussion over the standards’ future playing out at the statehouse, let’s take a step back and map out who stands for what in the debate over the Common Core.

Who Supports The Common Core?

We know the question is about who opposes the new standards, but let’s start at the beginning, with those who support them.

State-level education officials have been setting academic standards for more than two decades. But in 2008, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers began an initiative to write new, common standards for English language arts and math.

“There had been a pretty strong pushback over the years against the idea of having federally-developed national standards,” says Derek Redelman, vice president of Education and Workforce Development for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizations that has advocated for the standards. “So, part of the thought was let’s get together and do them as a state project.”

Generally, people who support the Common Core do so for three reasons:

  • They want stronger standards for states that didn’t have them before.
  • They want nationally comparable data that explains not just how students in Indiana are doing compared to, say, neighboring Ohio, but how the United States compares to other countries. Comparing data across state lines, they argue, requires uniform academic standards.
  • They want standards that prepare students for college and careers, something Redelman says wasn’t happening under the old Indiana standards.

Under the leadership of then-superintendent Tony Bennett and former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the new standards in August 2010. (As opposition to the Common Core has mounted, State Board members have reiterated their support for the standards several times since then, including at their February 2013 meeting.)

The Indiana affiliates of national advocacy groups, such as Stand for Children and Students First, have been among the staunchest supporters of internationally-benchmarked standards. They’ve also organized resistance to the statehouse push to withdraw Indiana from the Common Core, urging teachers to testify in favor of the standards.

Businesses have also expressed support for the Common Core. In February, about 70 companies — including Indiana-based Eli Lily and Indiana University Health — ran a full-page ad in The New York Times advocating for standards that create “a more highly skilled workforce.”

Who Opposes The Common Core?

Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, has been fighting the new math standards, which he says are inferior to what Indiana, California and many states have now. But he says rewriting the Common Core would only silence one type of critics — academics who argue the standards won’t ensure college and career ready graduates.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

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

There are at least two other groups that oppose the Common Core, says Evers:

So there is a left or liberal kind of criticism, that doesn’t like any standards or any testing. It just says the teachers are professional, let them have autonomy, let them close the door and we’re not going to test to see if they’re learning the material, we’re not going to give them a list of topics to go through, we’re going to leave that to their professional discretion.

Another set of people that would be unhappy — which I would also belong to — is the people who don’t like the nationalization of things, whether done by the federal government or done by a cartel of states.

In Indiana, the most vocal critics of the new standards are Indianapolis parents Erin Tuttle and Heather Crossin, leaders of a group called Hoosiers Against the Common Core. It’s affiliated with the national Truth in American Education movement.

Tuttle and Crossin’s opposition to the Common Core falls along two fault lines: They argue Indiana should keep its old standards, which were excellent, but also oppose the idea of nationally-crafted standards.

They took their concerns to state Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who drafted legislation to withdraw Indiana from the Common Core. That proposal shifted into a plan to pause implementation until the Indiana Department of Education could hold a series of statewide meetings allowing the public to weigh in on the new standards — a plan that won the support of all but one Republican when it came to a vote on the Senate floor.

Indiana House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, blocked Schneider’s bill from a hearing on his panel. So Schneider attached anti-Common Core language to a separate education proposal. If it passes, it would halt implementation of the new standards pending legislative review.

“It’s about Indiana keeping control of what the students are learning and how we are going to test them,” Tuttle says.

How Has Support For the Common Core Changed?

Whiteboard Advisors

How perceived support for the Common Core State Standards shifted between Nov. 2012 and April 2013.

It hasn’t, not significantly — at least that’s the latest from a survey of education insiders published  by Whiteboard Advisors.

  • Forty-six percent of those surveyed rated the support of local educators and school leaders as “strong” or “very strong” in April 2013, compared to 32 percent six months ago.
  • The percent of those surveyed who rated the support of state education officials and legislators as weak increased from 24 to 29 percent.
  • Only about 30 percent felt Congressional support was “weak” or “very weak” compared to 44 percent six months ago.

But the bipartisan support the Common Core once enjoyed is fading, reports Anthony Cody for Education Week. The Republican National Committee denounced the new standards as “an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children” in a resolution adopted this week. But party leaders such as Jeb Bush continue to advocate for the Common Core.

The Obama administration continues to promote the Common Core through its Race to the Top initiative. Not all Democrats are on board, though. Cody reports that California Democrats this week adopted a resolution condemning Students First, one of the organizations in favor of the   new standards.


  • Indymel

    The issue that is facing schools, however, is what to teach: ISTEP is currently being given and doesn’t match the Common Core. However, we order textbooks once every five years in any given subject, which means we ordered books last year and the year before believing we would be teaching Common Core. If we return to state standards, we have 3 or 4 more years with texts that must be supplemented because they don’t include information on the tests. This is expensive and can result in lower test scores. We need a legislature that puts the children first and stops politicizing their education.

  • Mary Porter

    Indymel’s comment made my head spin all the way around. S/he says “…we ordered books last year and the year before believing we would be teaching Common Core.”

    So, if the Common Core is a good framework for educating students, and implementing college and career readiness, the kids would be helped by learning it, right?

    Indymel doesn’t think so: “If we return to state standards, we have 3 or 4 more years with texts that must be supplemented because they don’t include information on the tests. This is expensive and can result in lower test scores.”

    So, “the tests” apparently don’t measure education achievement after all, whatever brand you choose. They measure alignment with somebody’s product line.

    Did you happen to buy Pearson’s own Common Core texts? That would make sense, because they’re loading them up with the same reading passages they use on their “aligned” common core assessments. Here’s what the people of New York just discovered, when the assessments were imposed, for the first time, on their live children.

  • Libertydockaren

    The standards are NOT internationally benchmarked. Four members of the validation committees refused to sign off on the final version of the standards because their repeated requests for data showing international benchmarking were ignored. Even the Common Core websites and DOE websites now say “internationally informed” because there is not proof. Experts peg the the standards at 7th grade level by the end of high school. All or most of the proponent individuals and organizations received Gates Foundation funding. Opposition among parents, legislators, and teachers is growing.

  • momof2

    Why isn’t anyone asking about the 400 data points they will collect on our children that will be stored in a federal data base? Then given freely to anyone who is doing research on children but yet the states have to pay to see the results. Why do they need to do FMRI brain scans on our children, plus facial expression camera’s, while they wear a skin censored wrist band with a pressure censor mouse and on a posture analysis seat/chair that collects data of how they are sitting or if they are paying attention, etc? Why do they need to collect data on our children’s health records, eye color, hair color, parents income level, religion affiliation, bus stop times, voting status on parents and much much more? As a parent I think this is unnecessary, especially since anyone can get this information but yet the states have to buy this information back. Why do they need all this information? Why won’t parents have a say after is fully implemented? Why won’t the state have a say after it is fully implemented? When your rights and privacy as parent to your children are taken away how could any vote for common core. Yes the federal gov. and the state can give your child’s information to anybody who is doing research they changed FERPA without even letting parents know. Other countries looked over common core to see if they wanted to use it in their school systems and all countries turned it down because of its low standards. You can find out all about the data points on the federal gov. website or even Bill and Melinda Gates website. Indiana’s standards were higher than common core so why are we changing them? Could it be because in 2010 when the federal gov. offered a stimulus package when the state could really use the money and said you can have it but you have to implement common core into your school system. Actually this is a fact if you read the stimulus package. So as a parent who has seen the math and reading material no thank you! As a parent who has read articles from other parents no thank you! I wish I could home school my children to get them away from this but you have to teach the common core even if you home school, otherwise your child won’t be able to get into college. It is just amazing that people really think this is the best thing for the children. And how can they say this is the best thing for our children if it has never been tested…unless you count what is going on in New York and how 80% of the public school children can’t read or do simple arithmetic after they graduate. Is that really what the people of Indiana want for our future generation?

    • Carrie Petro

      Thank you for posting this,I don,t think people for cc,know all the details about cc and what it is going to progress to, we will lose our children and we are giving up our rights as parents. I encourage people who are for cc,to get the facts, Glen Beck really opened my eyes. We need to stand united. The government has an underlying game to this cc.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »