Common Core Reversal – Are We There Yet?

January 20, 2014 5 Comments

Last week’s flurry of Common Core articles give us some indication of where Indiana is headed.  Our response can best be summed up with the following: We’ve come a long way, but we aren’t out of the woods yet!  The most crucial miles have yet to be travelled, before we cross the finish line.”

To fully appreciate just how far Indiana has come on the Common Core debate, it’s worth remembering that it wasn’t even a year and a half ago that the Indianapolis Star’s former education reporter, Scott Elliott, told me he wasn’t reporting on the subject of Common Core, because it wasn’t news.  He told me, “nobody even knows what the Common Core is,” thus they would not be interested in the topic.

Needless to say, the debate has shifted far beyond the mentality above, and beyond subsequent claims that the opposition is simply “a couple of north-side mothers and their friends.”  It has moved beyond the mudslinging that followed, such as only “right wing extremists” and “fringe” groups oppose Common Core.  Indeed, believe it or not, we have finally reached a point where opposition to Common Core is being taken seriously.  And, most importantly, three reports last week from Indiana StateImpact indicate that we not only find ourselves in good company, but that a true and total victory is within our grasp.  We begin by looking at Elle Moxley’s January 14th coverage of Governor Pence’s State of the State address.  The bottom line was this:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence indicated he favors a step away from the nationally-crafted Common Core education standards in his State of the State address Tuesday night.  “When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high,” said Pence.  “They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation.”

With Pence’s support, it becomes more likely Indiana will become the first to leave the Common Core initiative, though many other s have taken a step back from national consortiums designing new tests aligned to the standards.

The following day, January 15th, Moxley reported on Superintendent Ritz’s reaction to Pence’s remarks in her story entitled, “Ritz: After Common Core Review, ‘Indiana Will Be Adopting a New Set of Standards’ ”

But it wasn’t news to the state’s top education official, who says  that’s been the plan all along. 

“We always adopt our own standards,” says state superintendent Glenda Ritz. “It just so happens that in 2010 the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core as its standards. We are reviewing those standards. I’m pretty confident there are going to be changes to those standards. And Indiana will be adopting a new set of standards.”

Finally, last but not least, on January 17th Moxley’s co-worker, Brandon Smith, released an article, “GOP Lawmakers Voice Support For Indiana-Specific Education Standards,”  It begins:

Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma said this week they would be keeping a close eye on the State Board and Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

They say they’re pleased at the progress state education officials have made to improve their working relationship.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t still wade in on key education issues.

Bosma says after Wednesday’s State Board meeting, he’s happy with their progress.

“We’ve been chatting with everyone – the governor’s office, the State Board of Education members and the superintendent and her team – and it looks like everybody’s playing nice and moving in the same direction,” he says.  “So that’s welcome news, I think, for all of us.”

Senate Education Committee chair Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, shares Bosma’s optimism – but he says that won’t stop the legislature from acting when it comes to developing new education standards.

No doubt, the above reports are encouraging and an indication of just how far we have come.  We thank all of those who have worked so hard to make this happen, and we celebrate this accomplishment.  However, we must also add the cautionary words of “not so fast.”  Hoosiers want real change when it comes to the content of future standards – minor revisions and a simple name change won’t cut it.  On this point, we turn your attention to Breitbart’s coverage of Pence’s remarks, in which Common Core supporters Derek Redelman, of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and State Board of Education member Tony Walker (D), both predict that the changes made will be minimal and a mere tweaking of the Common Core.  Of most concern is Walker’s statement that he thinks “all of the anchor standards have to be Common Core.”  Obviously, this will NOT be acceptable.  For a further analysis of the article, please read Erin Tuttle’s recent post “Is that you, Common Core?

We would be remiss in wrapping up the media coverage from last week if we didn’t mention George Will’s outstanding column, which ran in numerous papers across the county.  It’s worth noting that in Indianapolis Star edition, Will gave a “shout-out” to Indiana, with the line “Now some [states], including Indiana, are reconsidering, and more will do so as opposition mounts.”  Will’s analysis of the situation can be found in his closing paragraphs:

The rise of opposition to the Common Core illustrates three healthy aspects of today’s politics. First, new communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda. Second, this uprising of local communities against state capitals, the nation’s capital and various muscular organizations (e.g., the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce, teachers unions, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) demonstrates that although the public agenda is malleable, a sturdy portion of the public is not.

Third, political dishonesty has swift, radiating and condign consequences. Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.”

Will’s decision to weigh in on Common Core with an entire column is a devastating blow to Common Core.  To many people, Will represents a different type of voice than, say, a Glen Beck. So much so, that even Andy Smarick, of the pro-Common Core Fordam Institute, warned Common Core supporters about this fact in his recent post, “The Principled Opposition to Common Core.”  It begins:

Yesterday’s column by George Will condemning Common Core is a very bad sign for the standards’ advocates.

I suspect that many Common Core backers on the political left either don’t know much about George Will or reflexively dismiss him because he’s a conservative. As a general matter, that’s a shame, but in this particular case they should pay close attention.

And fast.

Will is trusted implicitly by many on the right for two important reasons. First, he is deeply learned. He is the son of a philosophy professor, earned a graduate degree from Oxford and a PhD from Princeton. He was a university professor and U.S. Senate aide. He has authored more than a dozen books, and he’s won a Pulitzer Prize.

Second, his conservatism is rooted firmly in time-tested principles. His are not knee-jerk politics; they are not spontaneously oppositional to any utterance by a Democrat—he reveres the late former Johnson administration official and liberal U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Additionally, Smarick concludes with the following line, “George Will’s column isn’t the real story here. It’s what the column represents: the quiet but growing and hardening principled opposition to Common Core.”  We suggest that our readers be sure and spread Will’s column far and wide, particularly to public officials and legislators.  For, as noted above, it is quite possible that Indiana’s departure from Common Core will have to emanate from the Indiana General Assembly, with Governor Pence’s support and leadership.  We will be closely watching and reporting on whether Governor Pence makes good on his promise to deliver “uncommonly high standards” to Indiana students and teachers, regardless of which vehicle he uses.

As we wrap up the news from last week, one thing is certain – Common Core is in BIG trouble and its days are numbered.  It is no longer a matter of “if” a previously committed state will decide to dump it, but rather which one will be first.  Indiana is poised to be that state, and Governor Pence, in turn, is poised to become a national hero.  If that is to be, however, the Governor had better look in his rearview mirror.    According to Education Week reporter Andrew Ujifusa, in his recent article, Governor Haley is coming up from behind.  When comparing recent remarks made by the two Governors, Ujifusa thought Pence “wasn’t absolutely clear.”  In contrast, he said, “There’s no such fuzziness about Haley’s remarks, and if you think the race to drop out of common core is a competition, then South Carolina might have just shot into the lead.”  We suggest that Governor Pence step on the gas!

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  1. Governors Race to the Drop (of Common Core) | Truth in American Education | January 21, 2014
  1. Shanna says:

    Excellent article. Thank you!

  2. Joe says:

    “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

  3. Victoria Z says:

    Finally feeling there is light at the end of this manipulative tunnel! Thank you to all that have been fighting this fight! I TRULY cannot believe this ridiculousness ever took hold.

  4. Joan Billman says:

    Heather Crossin, you are amazing! What a jam-packed article! I read every line and the newspaper articles as well. You covered so much and gave me hope. Now I am waiting for Governor Pence to take the lead and come out strong against the Common Core State Standards. He could be the leader in the States to protect our children and grandchildren from the stranglehold of the Federal Government. He would be my hero!

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