Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Common Core, By Any Other Name: Can Rebranding Standards End Opposition?

    Gov. Mike Pence speaks to reporters.

    Brandon Smith / IPBS (File)

    Gov. Mike Pence says Indiana needs academic standards written 'by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers.'

    If legislation voiding the state’s current academic standards passes, Indiana will be the first state to exit the Common Core initiative and write its own expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level.

    As U.S. News & World Report notes, lawmakers in South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Kentucky are considering anti-Common Core measures. But lawmakers in Indiana have gone further to halt rollout of the standards and return to state-specific expectations.

    With backlash growing, many states are rebranding the Common Core in hopes of staving off the opposition, writes Lyndsey Layton for The Washington Post:

    In each case, the new name is designed to impart a local flavor to the standards. One of the main criticisms of the Common Core is that national standards are replacing homegrown benchmarks.

    “Here’s what we’re going to ensure: These are Florida standards,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) told a gathering of state GOP officials this month. “They’re not some national standards; they’re going to be Florida standards. This is our state. We’re not going to have the federal government telling us how to do our education system.” …

    Christopher Johnson, a branding expert, doubts that new names will quell opposition to the Common Core.

    “It’s something that might be politically expedient in the short term,” said Johnson, who writes the Name Inspector blog. “They might succeed in bamboozling people who are opposed to the idea of nationwide standards by giving them local names. . . . But I think it’s skirting around the issue.”

    That tracks with what our friends at StateImpact Florida have reported on the recently-renamed “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards,” which are almost indistinguishable from the Common Core:

    The proposed revisions to the standards would add calculus (using Florida’s current calculus standards), teach elementary students decimals using money, require elementary students learn cursive writing and allow kindergarten teachers to provide more guidance as students try to identify authors or answer questions about unknown words.

    But mostly, the changes do some copy editing to clarify objectives.

    So is Florida abandoning Common Core?

    Education experts said no. So did Common Core critics.

    “It sounds like they kept the comparability with the Common Core,” said Kathleen Porter-Magee, a scholar at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “So, no, they don’t have a set of standards that is completely separate and distinct from the Common Core.”

    State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says Indiana will be getting new academic standards after the year-long Common Core review wraps up this summer.

    As we noted last week, Common Core proponents say they’re willing to see what state education officials recommend out of that process.

    “We don’t think it any way prohibits components — or even all of Common Core — to be adopted by the state,” says Indiana Chamber of Commerce Vice President Derek Redelman.

    But Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, the author of several anti-Common Core bills, disagrees.

    “If at the end of the day, all we do is sort of play semantics — or rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic — I would consider this whole process a failure,” Schneider told StateImpact this fall.

    Instead, Schneider wants to see fixes that address the concerns parents have with the Common Core, as well as changes that protect Indiana’s sovereignty to set its own educational standards.


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