The fight over the implementation of Common Core Standards is getting particularly brutal in Indiana, since it will be replacing a set of state standards that is considered some of the best in the country. The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation said that the state’s language standards are superior to those offered by the Common Core, while Sandra Stotsky, a nationally-known education reformer and authority, said that Indiana “was trading a silk purse for the sow’s ear” in getting rid of its math curriculum.
The opposition to Common Core even puts Republicans against their own party members, with some saying that the condition that makes the adoption of the standards a requirement in order to qualify for the Federal Race to the Top funding represents the government’s encroachment into an area best left to states. Yet, Governor Mitch Daniels and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett both back the adoption of Common Core in Indiana, and also sport strong conservative bona-fides.
Bennett insists the new standards are an improvement over what Indiana previously had because they are “fewer, clearer, deeper.” He rejects the notion of a federal takeover, calling the Core a collaborative effort by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. “We didn’t give up state control,” he says.
“We have become a society of comparisons. How can we do that if we’re not all agreeing to speak the same language?” Bennett says.
Although the Common Core was drafted by representatives from various states, some still see it as an attempt to introduce a national curriculum. Indianapolis Senator Scott Schneider used just this rationale when he drafted a bill that would have forced the state to back out of its commitment to adopt the Common Core. The bill was defeated in the Senate’s Education Committee with a vote of 6-4.
Two groups, the Pioneer Institute and the American Principles Project, have released studies that characterized the Standards as mediocre and vague.
“All around the country backlash is occurring belatedly because of the speed and manner in which these were adopted,” says Heather Crossin, an Indianapolis citizen-activist involved in education issues. “It didn’t go through a legislature. The public was largely unaware. There wasn’t enough time to do a proper analysis the issues deserve.”
Bennett, however, reasserted his support for Common Core when speaking to the press recently, and said that those who are looking for procedural reasons to delay its adoption are wasting their time. Indiana’s Board of Education didn’t take any legislative shortcuts when it was evaluating the standards, and chose to adopt them because the members felt that Common Core would be a positive thing for the state’s schools.