Indiana Common Core Review: A Stacked Deck?

February 12, 2014 27 Comments

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 biasThis 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!

Comments (27)

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  1. Wayne Scott says:

    Thank you for researching this and sharing this information. If it weren’t for Hoosiers Against Common Core, there is realistically no way the public would know the details here.

    As a person who is quite familiar with Pugh Matrix-type methodology to rank/categorize information I know the tool is only as good as the inputs. If there is bias of opinion, for example, quantitative numbers can be achieved, but they may not be of real value due to the bias. I have a very hard time personally understanding the apparent bias on this selection.

  2. Susan Chilberg says:

    This further proves my wariness of this governor who is deliberately pushing his agenda to get little children into the publicly funded preschools. This is absolutely Common Core and UNESCO driven Skinnerian/Pavlov training for these little ones to be inculcated early on into the Progressive and communist mindthought.

    We MUST get after every legislator and tell them: we see what you are doing and we are not going to tolerate it. And that certainly includes the embarassment of this change agent Governor Pence.

  3. Chuck Ford says:

    Having been in education my entire life it’s not as complicated to do standards as everyone wants to make it. First step is to take the profit out of the equation. Apply common sense which almost is never applied in education.
    The fact of the matter is we always seek the expertise of college educators and not the employers or average American. What people want is a high degree of functional literacy. Grades 1-8 ought concentrate on the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and civic responsibility. This provides the foundation for students to be able to learn at the higher levels. Attempting to get higher learning based on college readiness at grades K-8 is like getting the cart before the horse. Teach Kids how to learn first!!! Test them and demand minimum proficiency. Provide adequate money to pay for the remediation that will be necessary for those who do not meet minimum standards. There needs to be a recognition that not all students need or want to go to college. With mandatory functional literacy requirements, an emphasis on career education and a duel diploma system it will free the college bound classes to move forward to meet college readiness requirements while those students who are not college bound get the direction, guidance and preparation to meet the demands of a growing need for skilled workers.
    Functional literacy means teaching students how to learn not nit picking on college prep courses that statistically does not apply to around 70% of Hoosier students.
    Standards need to focus on functional literacy in grades K-8. A separate set of standards need to be developed for Grades 9-12 that focuses on those kids that are going to college. Those who want to pursue a vocational track can concentrate on developing the skills needed for their future career. Any student that has met a high standard of functional literacy will succeed. Putting all students through a rigorous college prep curriculum slows the progress of those who are actually going to college and demeans and bores those who are not. Those students who either drop out or become in school drop outs are students that see little future in what they are learning in high school. Common sense needs to be applied but doubt that will rule the day.

  4. Keith Geise says:

    Higher standards will bring more jobs to Indiana, because employers are looking for qualified employees. Indiana needs to be exceptional! Common Core provides a “common” education. Indiana deserves better.

  5. Ongoing gratitude to you for your tireless efforts to expose the deception that has taken minds captive in Indiana and across the nation.
    ~ Your research clearly points to the reality that it is high time for a grassroots, informed citizen, parent led reform to place education back into the hands of parents and local communities.

    If folks wish more evidence to support this they would be well equipped by reading Professor Terrence Moore’s expose’: The Story Killers, A Common Sense Case Against Common Core

    and

    Attorney Robin Eubanks’ well documented “Credentialed to Destroy, How and Why Education became a Weapon”. In it she also states that whenever you see the credential of the NCTE and the NCTM, it should sound the most annoyingly loud irritating screeching attention getting sound in your head…because whatever these groups inform results in a diminishing of academic knowledge and skills, poor use of tax moneys, and an intent to manipulate your child’s attitudes, values, and beliefs….ie. social emotional learning for 21st Century college and career Competencies ….the love of servitude.

  6. Brenda Bergwitz says:

    Thank you for a you do in getting the news about. Common. Core it is a Travesty. !!!’

  7. Jim Bratten says:

    What many of us feared is happening. As with other states, the concerns about Common Core are being glossed over and it’s being repackaged as something benign and not really “bad” — we shouldn’t be concerned after all. “Nothing to see here; move along. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…” Our concerns are brushed aside with an arrogant flourish.

    When one is dealing with progressive academics, schooled in self esteem and “teach to the test”, the content of the education received is never important. The children lose; no critical thinking skills taught, no analytics, etc. Therefore little creativity is fostered, enthusiasm for higher learning becomes only a veneer, and no “reaching for the stars” is encouraged. We are left with automatons when a child is spoken of as a “unit”; all the same, the level of education is lowered for the lofty goal of “sameness”. Hoosier children will remain at a level of academic mediocrity, but they sure will feel good about themselves. And those lucky souls who design remedial programs for incoming college freshmen will certainly have a lucrative future.

    The fortunate eighth-grade students schooled by the McGuffey Readers of 1840, their moral compasses firmly in place, will continue to embarrass the high school graduates of American government schools of 2014. Sad; it doesn’t have to be that way. But educators today aren’t interested in academic achievement – they’re after federally-mandated standards. That will make everyone the same and education will be “fair”; except for those who want to excel.

    Welcome to Common Core Sub-Standards. Are we really surprised?

    But our efforts must continue if we are to give our children what they need to succeed. Hoosier children don’t deserve a cookie-cutter future.

    Thanks to Erin, Heather, Sue, Monica, the Indiana legislators who are trying to restore Indiana’s formerly superior standards, and the patriots across this state who support our efforts. Keep the fires of knowledge aflame!

  8. Frank says:

    How is it hat all of these so called experts achieved and/or acquired such academic acclaim if the educational standards of the past are so inadequate?

  9. Dan Thiele says:

    Bravo to Hoosiers Against Common Core for gathering these riveting facts in one place. This information is shocking and a big disappointment.

    Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle continue to impress with their good-old-fashioned shoe leather reporting.

    Now the question is, did the State Board of Education and the Department of Education know about this bias ahead of time? If they DID know about this, why did they fail to cast a wider net in selecting panelists? If they DID NOT know about this, who was minding the store?

  10. Michael Roach says:

    As president of the Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM), I need to correct a mistake in this post. ICTM has taken no position regarding the Common Core standards. Though affiliated with NCTM, we are a separate organization and have not endorsed the NCTM position statement you mention.

  11. Jacob Pactor says:

    Actually, it’s the people’s SBOE.

  12. Lindy says:

    I just have to say THANK YOU for staying on top of this, informing Hoosiers on what’s being attempted to enforce on our families behind the scenes, and standing up for not only Indiana but everyone!! Thank you for being bold for the weak! And thank you for persevering!! You’re in our prayers. May you be greatly blessed….

  13. Janet Stump says:

    I am looking for the Tri-fold phamplet that was created by an Indiana parent. We parents in Washington State would like to see it and adopt it to our state. Please call me at 360-692-5277 and or cell 360-649-1185. It was on the Glenn Beck movie. We need your help.
    Please get back to me.
    Thank you.
    Jan Stump

  14. Janet Stump says:

    I did not see the Tri-fold in the email. Please direct me to it. Sincere thanks,
    WE want to get it out to everyone asap as well as go to our School Boards and Legislatures.
    Sincere thanks

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