If you were going to the trial of someone accused of murdering a loved one, would it concern you if almost 50% of the jury had signed statements that they believed the accused was innocent? Would you consider such a jury to be “fair” and “neutral?” Would you believe that the “process” of our judicial system alone would compensate for the obvious built-in bias of the jury? Would you expect anything other than a “not guilty” verdict?
The absurdity of the questions above, demonstrate exactly what is being asked of Hoosier citizens regarding the Common Corer Standards review. They are being told to put their faith in the “process,” and to ignore the fact that the deck is clearly stacked in favor of Common Core. Of course, it should be noted, were it not for the leadership of Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) Member Brad Oliver, there might not be any review occurring at all right now. He successfully broke the grid-lock of dysfunction that plagued the SBOE all Fall, due to Superintendent Ritz’s conflict with the other members.
Nevertheless, as anyone who has ever followed committee work knows, the “who” is usually a far more determining factor in predicting the outcome than the “how.” When examining the “who” of the standards review panels, it is glaringly apparent that the “new” draft standards for Indiana will most likely be a repackaged version of Common Core, or something equally as mediocre. While they may end up being “for Hoosiers, by Hoosiers,” it’s hard to be optimistic that they will be “uncommonly high” or “among the best in the nation.”
Before proceeding, the following is a quick overview of the process to date. It goes like this:
An Evaluation Panel met last Monday, February 3rd, for an orientation. The members were given the charge of reviewing Common Core along with other standards, including Indiana’s former standards and standards by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Each member was sent home to do their evaluations throughout the one week time period they were given. They were told it should take them no more than a “handful” of hours to complete their work, which consisted of rating each individual standard with either a “+, -, or 0.”
This panel reconvenes this Thursday and Friday, February 13th and 14th, to reconcile their differences and come up with a draft of “new” Indiana Math and ELA Standards. The following week, on February 18th, a second committee called the “College and Career Ready (CCR) Panel” meets to review the draft standards created by the Evaluation Panel. The CCR Panel is tasked with determining whether the prospective standards meet the definition of “college and career readiness.” Public comment will be open on February 19th for three weeks, and three public hearings will be held (in the northern, central, and southern part of the state) the week of February 25th. It is projected that the final product will be presented to the SBOE at their March 5th meeting, with an official vote on adoption scheduled for their April 9th meeting.
While all of the individuals on the panels are likely nice and well-intentioned people, the following disturbing facts remain and speak all too loudly:
15 of the 29 members of the Evaluation Panel can be readily “red-flagged” as having a pro-Common Core bias. (7 signed the “We are For the Core“ petition; 3 have given pro-Common Core testimony before a legislative body of the Indiana General Assembly; 5 are or were official state representatives of the PARCC Consortium, 3 as PARCC Cadre Leaders and 2 as members of the PARCC State Design Team; and 4 can be identified by other pro-Common Core advocacy work.)
13 out of 32 members of the College and Career Ready Panel can be readily “red-flagged” as having a pro-Common Core bias. (5 signed the “We are For the Core” pettion; 5 have given pro-Common Core testimony before a legislative body of the Indiana General Assembly; 6 are or were official state representatives of the PARCC Consortium, 4 as PARCC Cadre Leaders & 2 as members of the PARCC State Design Team; and 1 can be identified by other pro-Common Core advocacy work.)
Only 1 individual, out of a combined total of 53, can be readily “flagged” as having an anti-Common Core bias. This person sits on the College and Career Ready Panel. Thus, not a single member of the Evaluation Team is known to be a Common Core opponent or skeptic.
8 Individuals sit on both the Evaluation Panel and the College and Career Readiness Panel. While one or two individuals acting as liaisons may be appropriate, this number seems excessive. A potential conflict of interest exists, calling into question whether these individuals can objectively critique a set of draft standards they helped create.
7 of the 8 individuals who sit on both panels, and thus wield a greater level of influence, can be readily “red-flagged” as having a pro-Common Core bias. (3 signed the “We are For the Core” petition; 2 have given pro-Common Core testimony before a legislative body of the Indiana General Assembly; and 3 are or were official state representatives of the PARCC Consortium, 1 as a PARCC Cadre Leader and 2 as members of the PARCC State Design Team.
Only 1 Professor of Mathematics is a confirmed member of either panel, and he testified in favor of Common Core Standards at the Interim Legislative Study Committee, August 5, 2013. This is disappointing, since it has been repeatedly stated that the best people to judge college readiness in mathematics are those who actually teach credit-bearing, college level mathematics courses.
Several members of both committees belong to, and/or have presented together at conferences for, the Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM), an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the NCTM, and the Hoosier Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (HATME). The HATME official position is to strongly support the implementation of Common Core Standards and the PARCC assessments. You can read it here. The NCTM has a position statement supporting the Common Core Standards which can be read here.
The Evaluation Team is divided into bands (such as Grade 6-12 Math). In most of these “bands” or subcommittees, the majority of seats are held by individuals who can be readily “red-flagged” as having a pro-Common Core bias. This matters, because when there is disagreement over a particular standard, the majority rules.
None of the Hoosiers whose names were submitted by Common Core opponents as candidates for the panels, such as IU Mathematics Professors Jim Davis and Chris Connell, were contacted or selected to serve.
In addition to the pro-Common Core bias of the panel members, a similar bias exists regarding which sets of standards were selected to be officially evaluated. This holds particularly true for the ELA Standards. The Evaluation Panel is reviewing Common Core ELA, Indiana’s previous ELA Standards, and NCTE’s ELA Standards. It should come as no surprise that standards put out by the NCTE are considered to be in-line philosophically and otherwise with Common Core’s. Thus, there exists an inherent two-to-one bias. The review of math standards is only slightly better, because Indiana’s two previous sets of standards are being evaluated, in addition to Common Core Math Standards and the NCTE Math Standards. Not surprisingly, the NCTE Math Standards are in-line philosophically with Common Core’s.
You can’t help but wonder why NCTE and NCTM Standards were chosen, rather than those of states with proven track-records of success, such as Massachusetts and California? It has been stated that during the reconciliation process, members are free to refer to other standards, but given the time allowed and the make-up of the panels, that seems unlikely. That’s too bad, since it is well known that Massachusetts’ former ELA Standards helped drive the Bay State from an above average performer on the NAEP to the top performing state in the country. In addition, international assessments confirmed Massachusetts’ high performance in both ELA and Mathematics. Similarly, California’s previous Math Standards have been credited with closing the achievement gap, as witnessed by a six-fold increase in the number of Hispanics, and a four-fold increase in the number of African Americans, who reached Algebra I by eighth grade and passed the corresponding end of course assessment. Equally odd, for a state the hopes to ready its students for the global market place, is the fact that standards from the highest performing countries are not formally included.
If the above facts concern you, please take the time to contact the members of the ISBOE, whose contact information can be found here. You may also want to give Governor Pence a call at (317)232-4567 and let him know how disappointed you are that the deck is disappointingly stacked. Remind him that it is his SBOE, not Superintendent Ritz’s, and should they fail to deliver “uncommonly high” standards to the citizens of Indiana, he will be the one left holding the bag!
Sites That Link to this Post
- Hoosiers, new information about biased Indiana Standards Review and Development | Saint Simon Common Core Information | February 13, 2014
- Indiana to Continue Using Fuzzy Math in New Standards? | Truth in American Education | February 21, 2014
- Common Core opponents concerns NOT resolved in K-5 "new" math standards | Hoosiers Against Common Core | February 22, 2014
- Indiana’s New Standards: A Scoop of Common Core with Some Junk on Top | Truth in American Education | February 27, 2014
- Indiana’s Draft Standards: A Scoop of Common Core with Some Junk on Top? #stopcommoncore | Stop Common Core Illinois | February 28, 2014
- Milgram Says IN Attempt at a Rewrite is a Fail | Missouri Education Watchdog | April 21, 2014
- Milgram Says IN Attempt at a Rewrite is a Fail | Grumpy Opinions | April 22, 2014
- Hoosiers Against Common Core Blasts Gov. Pence as Panel Approves a 'Rebranded' Common Core | Houston Daily Digest | April 22, 2014
- Pastor Mikes Report | Hoosiers Against Common Core Blasts Gov. Pence as Panel Approves a ‘Rebranded’ Common Core | April 22, 2014
- Was Board Member Andrea Neal just a "tool" in Governor Pence's Common Core re-branding scheme? | Hoosiers Against Common Core | April 26, 2014
- Mike Pence Rebrands Common Core in Indiana | Caffeinated Thoughts | April 28, 2014