Was Board Member Andrea Neal just a “tool” in Governor Pence’s Common Core re-branding scheme?

April 26, 2014 3 Comments

A question that continues to be asked throughout Indiana is, at just what point should Hoosier parents have realized that their children are still going to be stuck with Common Core?  When should they have seen the writing on the wall that Governor Pence did not intend to fulfill his promise to deliver “uncommonly high standards” that were written “by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” but instead was orchestrating a Common Core rebrand?

Of course, some of the more recent signs are still fresh in many people’s memory.  They range from the language in SEA91 requiring that the standards receive a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) flexibility wavier, to the hiring of an out-of-state facilitator and D.C.-insider, from the federally-funded, Common Core-profitting WestEd to run the re-branding show.  Let’s not leave out the stacked-deck of publicly identified pro-Common Core individuals who sat on the Evaluation and College and Career Readiness panels that worked on the new standards.  And, who could forget the most glaring warning sign of all –  when a mere week after Governor Pence received national attention for withdrawing Indiana from the Common Core, Governor Herbert of Utah let the “cat out of the bag,” when he clarified the situation in a news conference (Watch minutes 22-26 here):

“I’ve talk to Gov. Pence about what they’re doing there…their standards are mirroring exactly what is commonly referred to as the Common Core standards.”

Why didn’t Governor Pence receive the wrath of the grassroots right then and there?  The answer is they continued to believe that he meant what he said.  They believed the statement, put out by his spokesperson, Christy Denault, which said “Any effort to simply rebrand Common Core would not achieve the governor’s stated objectives.”

In hindsight, Herbert’s comments simply reiterated what was contained in an email that circulated within the education community at the end of January, a day or two after SB91 passed out of the Senate Education Committee:

For all of you that are curious about the article in the INDY STAR today regarding scrapping the Common Core standards, I spoke to Dr. Schauna Findlay today. Schauna is one of the closest individuals to this situation, so I trust her information.

Here is what I have learned from her:
The INDY STAR published an article today about Indiana scrapping the Common Core standards. This is not completely accurate. In the article, it says we will revert back to the old Indiana standards by July 1st. We will NEVER transition back to these standards – on July 1st, we will adopt the NEW Indiana Academic standards. Now, here is the kicker….those standards will most likely look ALMOST IDENTICAL to the CCSS. We will take the CCSS standards, add a few that outline more details (mostly math related) and adopt them as Indiana standards. What the article did not say was that we HAVE to adopt College and Career Readiness standards to stay in compliance with our NCLB waiver. And, when all is said and done….the standards will completely reflect the CCSS standards. It is VERY much a political issue at this point – the issue is not with the standards or content of the standards, but rather WHO controls the content.

So, if teachers ask….don‘t stop your work on CCSS – they are just getting a new name. I understand from Dr. Schauna Findlay (I spoke in length with her today.) that the draft standards are coming out late February. Once they do, if you compare the new drafted standards to the CCSS, they will see that they are practically (or even exactly) the same. Thanks!! Tami

Tami Hicks
Professional Development Coordinator Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906

Once again, grassroots activists believed Governor Pence’s staffer and State Board member Brad Oliver, who wrote “[Findlay] is in no way tied to the current evaluation process nor does she know what she is talking about.”  A few months later, when her named surfaced as a national evaluator for the state, particularly because of her ties to the Chamber of Commerce, we all should have realized what was happening.

Many in Indiana chose to ignore these and other warning signs, because they had faith in Governor Pence.  They had faith that although SEA91 contains some ambiguous language, Governor Pence would honor the spirit of the law.  They trusted he would follow in the footsteps of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who stood up to Arne Duncan with true Common Core-free standards and still obtained an NCLB Waiver.  In the unlikely event Duncan were to say “No,” Hoosiers thought Governor Pence would be smart enough to go back to the legislature and urge them to look to our neighbors in Illinois or to the state of Vermont, both of whom have opted to forgo the waiver, viewing it as more trouble than it’s worth and suffering little to no consequences.  In short, many Hoosiers believed that Governor Pence would be the strong leader for Indiana, that he now aspires to be for the nation.

Ironically, perhaps no one had more faith in Governor Pence originally than State Board of Education Member Andrea Neal, who honorably answered his call to serve.  She, of all people, has to be wondering now whether the term used to describe her by Chairman Bob Boehning back in August of 2013 was correct.  Did Governor Pence simply view her as a token appointment, a “valuable tool,” all along?  For those who don’t remember, take a look at Boehning’s statement in the video clip below:

 Neal “might be someone who would be able to be moved to change her position so (Pence) believes she could be a valuable tool long-term.”

Only Governor Pence knows for sure whether his intent from the get go was for Neal to be a useful “tool” in a grand re-branding scheme.  However, to tens of thousands of Hoosiers across the state she will go down in history as a hero – one of the very few public officials, who honorably and courageously spoke out on behalf of Hoosier children.


Comments (3)

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  1. MJ Kurdys says:

    Holy Macaroni, I had never see not heard about this Behning quote! So let’s see, we want you to participate, but only to the degree we can persuade you to our way of thinking. If we cannot, at least we can claim we had both sides represented.

    This explains why they asked for input from Stotsky, Milgram, Moore et al, but ultimately rejected their opinion. “We really thougt you were intelligent enough to understand the truth as we see it, but apparantly not, so never mind.”

  2. leon dixon says:

    I’m not sure but Amos Brown might also conclude that he has been used.

  3. Kristin felts says:

    Unbelievable! Just when I think I can not be more disappointed in our Governor and those who surround him! This video clip is new news to me, and when I look at it and add it to all my other knowledge of what has been said and done by our Governor and other people to deceive parents and educators…I am disgusted! This will come back to haunt him in his future as he runs for other offices. People will remember!

    Andrea Neal is a fine teacher and person. She deserves nothing but complete respect and thanks for all she has done to try and protect all if the children of Indiana! Our other board members should take notes and develop a backbone and a conscience.

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