Written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers- as long as the feds say it’s OK

December 7, 2013 8 Comments

Glenda Ritz Mike Pence







Governor Pence and Republican legislators have  made statements against the Common Core and both groups have signaled their intent to abandon the national standards. Governor Pence has stated that Indiana should have its own high standards, “written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers.” The Indiana Department of Education and State Board of Education (SBOE) are struggling to agree on how these new Indiana standards will be developed and by whom. Many question if there is ample time to accomplish this task in time for schools and teachers to prepare before the 2014-2015 school year.

What baffles me the most is that these education leaders are failing to recognize that a solution is right under their nose. In 2009, Indiana developed and adopted a set of internationally benchmarked math standards which the Indiana Education Roundtable and the SBOE claimed were “the top in the country.” Instead of implementing these standards that cost a lot of tax dollars to develop, Tony Bennett decided to shelve the standards and wait for the Common Core, adopted a year later. What compels these leaders to insist on developing yet another set of standards and spending more precious tax dollars?

It’s not like the SBOE and the Indiana Educational Roundtable didn’t have an overwhelming amount of supportive evidence for them when they adopted the standards:

The 2009 update of Indiana’s math standards included benchmarking to content covered in the American Diploma Project (ADP) Benchmarks, NAEP Mathematical Frameworks, the NAtional Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s Foundations for Success.

Independent reviews from Fordham and Achieve found them intellectually demanding ….contain the essential content at the level of rigor that is consistent with that of national exemplars and are CLEARLY AT THE TOP OF THE MATH STANDARDS IN THE U.S. [emphasis mine]

The process also included review by in-state content specialists from K-12, higher education, and professional associations.

Public review and comment was sought for 80 days to provide opportunity for additional input by  teachers, administrators, parents, students. members of the community, and other interested parties.

Additional materials in support of the standards as being “college and career ready” were submitted to the SBOE:

1. The developers of the Common Core, Achieve, deemed them college and career ready and submitted a letter to the SBOE.

2. The Fordham Institute also sent a similar letter to the SBOE signaling their support of the standards.

3. The Indiana 2009 standards are internationally benchmarked and have a proper study correlating the standards to Japan, Singapore and Finland. The Common Core does not have this.

4. They were evaluated by a committee of math professors at Indiana University who supported them and considered them college and career ready.

5. The Indiana Association of Math Educators also sent a letter claiming they were a meaningful articulation of the expectations for student.

If we have a set of standards that meets all the criteria considered essential by all relevant stakeholders, what’s the hold up? The sticking point is that Indiana will have to modify their NCLB waiver if they don’t keep Common Core and substitute a set of “college and career ready” standards approved by Indiana’s institutions of higher-ed. The rational-thinking person would look at the evidence behind the 2009 standards and say these standards meet and surpass the waiver criteria. Let’s drag them out and submit them. Unfortunately, the request hasn’t been made. Why not?

The federal government has the final say over any changes made to the NCLB waiver. Based on the experience of other states that have gone through this process, any alternative set of standards a state wishes to submit must have complete alignment to the Common Core Standards for approval. There is a fear that the 2009 math standards would be rejected by the feds because they are aligned with top national and international standards, not the Common Core. If this is the case, I hope there is a leader among those involved who will champion on behalf of Indiana students and call out the federal government for their abuse of federal waivers to mandate state policy. If they aren’t willing to do this, they should be honest with the people and add “that the federal government allows” after “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers.”

When did it become acceptable for our leaders to say, “Hey, I know we have this superior set of standards that we already spent money to develop and could adopt quickly to allow schools time to prepare for the next school year, but we’re not going to do that. Instead, we’re going to fight about what to do, spend an extraordinary amount of money, and wind up with standards that aren’t as good. It’s worth it, we’ll be in federal compliance.” That might fly in some circles, but it isn’t going to fly with voters. They are going to be more outraged than ever.

Hoosiers Against Common Core is calling upon all leaders involved with this issue to formally submit the 2009 Indiana math standards to the federal government to be evaluated as “college and career ready” standards. If the feds say they don’t qualify, then leaders MUST challenge their assumptions. If math standards considered  the best in the country and on par with high-performing countries aren’t acceptable, we should walk. What are they going to do, punish us for not lowering our standards?

Before anyone cries foul and complains the old standards weren’t working, remember Indiana never used these standards. They are brand new and full of promise.


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  1. leon dixon says:

    Indiana, tested as a nation, actually did quite well in Math on a recent International test. Further evidence that high standards can aid the achievement of high performance. The idea is sound, perhaps review the standards by Purdue math professors as it was a recent recommendation to the IU Trustees to end the awarding of undergraduate degrees in education at IU.
    As for the waivers, I think the threatened loss of them is the basis for the Chamber’s embrace of Mordor. The threat, if carried out, would expose too many liars in Indiana and cost upwards, I imagine, $250,000,000.00 The Chamber and other “responsible leaders” have been adroit at looking the other way on these education failure schools in Indiana whose incompetence and lying, essentially, have put now $250,000,000 a year at risk.
    NCLB was and is a great stupidity but one which gives Mr. Obama the whip hand and Indiana voted him in.

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      I wish someone would confirm that we would lose the money if we violated the waiver. Many say that the government can’t hold back Title 1 funding and the they haven’t done so in the past for other states in violation of federal waivers. An answer should be easy to get, right?

  2. Jade Brown says:

    I say, let the federal government keep its money and let Indiana, which has done such a fantastic job of becoming a fiscally responsible state, pay for its own education. That would get the federal government out of our backyard entirely when it comes to education, and, constitutionally, that is exactly where it needs to be. Education was and still should be the responsibility of each state. The formation of a federal Department of Education was unconstitutional, and everything it does to insert itself more firmly into the states’ educational policies is unconstitutional. That power was left to the states. When the Constitution was written, the only powers granted to it BY THE STATES were peace, war, negotiation, and international commerce. Everything else was left to the states (individual countries, if you will) OR to the people. The federal government was designed by the states and it is under our control, not the other way around.

  3. MJ Kurdys says:

    Erin, you have gotten to the nut of it, for sure. I want to tear my hair out at the phenomenal insanity of saying they have tossed CCSS and rewritten the standards…..ARGHHHHH!!!

  4. Matt Modleski says:

    The only way for us to change the trajectory of our Nation is to elect people not beholden to Federal Money. It would serve us well to ask elected State officials at the Federal trough where the money is coming from? There is not one cent in the SS Trust fund, just IOU’s. Each month our Federal Government borrows about 20 cents of every dollar it spends and that’s AFTER the massive tax hikes that we’ve had. To my State Elected Officials who want Mass Transit, Common Core, $90,000.00 Statues and $110 million dollar concert halls I say enough already. There is no federal money available and any promise that says otherwise is in bold denial of the math. Perhaps our elected officials should try our new 2009 Indiana Math standards and then tell us the truth. Our country is addicted to credit and the standard of living we all enjoy is a credit bubble of the largest magnitude. The use of federal enticements to gain control of our curriculum will be short lived once the objective is met. Anyone running for office as someone who claims to want to get our fiscal house in order cannot vote to grow the size of Federal influence. Mike Pence’s desire to run for President hangs on this one decision, if he blows it, he can retire after this stint as Governor.

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