Let’s say you were approached by a political strategist, gathering public reaction to a plan to save Obamacare. He asks, “If Obamacare was rebranded as a state-governed initiative with a different name, like IndianaCare, and put through a Hoosier process, do you think people would buy it?”
You would probably laugh and say people would see right through it as a cheap trick. It doesn’t matter what it’s called, it doesn’t matter who controls it, the only thing that does matters is whether or not it is an intrinsically good program that will work.
Since we’re already in a “what-if” scenario, imagine the strategist was working for conservative republicans. Your answer would morph from a laugh to a smack, followed with the comment, “What’s wrong with you guys, you’re supposed to oppose this, not try to sell it.”
This “what-if” scenario is a reality for Hoosiers facing a rebranding of the Common Core into “new” Indiana standards. Legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly initiated a process to replace the Common Core with improved standards. The process is currently being conducted by Governor Mike Pence’s new agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI). However, the recent release of the “new” standards revealed they contain almost all of the Common Core and look strikingly similar, causing many to fear it is a rebrand, not a replacement. While it may have gone through a “Hoosier” process to rename it, the flawed content hasn’t been removed.
Surprisingly, there are republican legislators who dismiss the concern that the “new” standards mirror the Common Core. They claim it’s unavoidable, the former Indiana standards and the Common Core, which were used as a base for the new standards, share so many similarities that we were bound to have overlap. The reality is that all sets of standards share similar DNA, in the same way a pig and a human do. (Yes, it’s true. After chimpanzees, humans share more DNA with pigs than any other species.)
All sets of standards include many of the same components, like adding two numbers between 0-9, but the technical language, which articulates how that translates for students, creates a very different product. In the case of the “new” standards, they haven’t altered any of the Common Core genes, they’re still a pig.
The CECI released a statement calling the “new” standards a first draft, and they intend to make improvements before the State Board of Education votes on the final draft. What those changes will be, and whether or not they will be enough to end the Common Core debate in Indiana will largely be determined by the CECI, under the direction of Governor Pence. The final vote by the State Board of Education to accept or reject the final standards is also controlled by the governor, they’re his appointees.
In his State of the State address, Pence promised standards “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, that are uncommonly high.” This promise can only be kept if he exerts strong leadership over his staff and appointees and delivers improved standards, not a rebrand. If it’s the latter, he will likewise be rebranding the Common Core as his own initiative, the consequences of which will be far-reaching.