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.


  • Holly

    As a parent of 4 kids in Indiana public schools, I would like to see us get away from the Common Core Standards and get back on track with Indiana standards that our state will develope for our students. One of my main concerns with the common core is the 4th grade “Mythology” unit. Are Greek mythology characters the only ones used in this unit? Also, is standard RL4 the only standard that is being met in the Greek Mythology unit?

    • Ryan

      This appears to be the standard you are referencing, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.4
      Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text,
      including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology
      (e.g., Herculean)

      It does not limit schools to only Greek mythology, if your child(ren) are only studying Greek mythology that is a local decision.

      Also any lesson or unit will always have multiple standards being addressed, it just maybe that a paticular lesson or unit emphasizes a specified standard. Any writing assignments that apart of the greek mythology unit would still be aligned with writing standards, RL 4.1 – 4.3 are likely addressed in every reading unit.

    • Karynb9

      Common Core doesn’t have a 4th grade “Mythology” unit. Common Core doesn’t have ANY units. Common Core is a set of objectives that state what students should be able to do. Exactly how they get there in terms of math algorithms or specific book titles or the topic of a personal narrative they write is up to the school district and classroom teachers.

  • Rebecca

    I would like Indiana to make their own standards but I am afraid they will just be remakes of the CC.

  • Jme

    Changing the name doesn’t change anything. People object to the Common Core standards because they were concocted by non-educators as a way to move taxpayer money to education enterprise. They were hastily done, poorly written, and are of no use in the schools. No matter what standards are settled on, Indiana’s own or Common Core warmed over, what people object to most is the testing that goes with the standards. Get rid of the testing, settle on a set of standards, and let the teachers do their jobs.

    • IN Teacher

      “Let the teachers do their jobs” is exactly what most of us (teachers) are praying for! Interestingly enough, all the back and forth craziness is really the only thing still holding us back…. Across the state, schools like mine are already using textbooks and resources aligned with the common core. We’ve found ourselves teaching the same solid basic skills, with the added bonus of students now gaining a greater depth of understanding. We teachers overwhelmingly support the new standards, which WERE written by teams of teachers, principals, and content area specialists. Nothing is perfect, but are these new standards educationally sound? Definitely! Please now give us the opportunity to do our jobs and teach. Thank you.

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