INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana officially dropped out of the Common Core experiment on Monday after Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill that voids the nationalized math and English learning standards from being used in Hoosier schools and directs state leaders to craft a set of homegrown standards.
That’s the good news for Common Core opponents.
The bad news is that the proposed replacement standards look an awful lot like the Common Core ones.
Back to the good news for a moment.
Indiana is the first of the 45 original Common Core states to drop out of the program. That’s important because it may well embolden leaders in other states to also pull out of Common Core and design their own K-12 standards, which spell out for teachers the academic concepts that need to be taught in each grade level.
In other words, Indiana has blazed a trail that other states can now follow. That’s potentially a huge development. More on this in a moment.
The other positive development from Monday’s bill signing is that Indiana citizens, parents, and teachers will be able to have a voice in the creation of the new standards. That’s a marked contrast to the swift and secretive way in which Common Core was adopted back in 2010. If the new law accomplishes nothing else, at least it will bring sunshine and accountability to the standards adoption process, which is expected to wrap up in April.
Now for the not-so-good news.
Sandra Stotsky, a well-regarded education expert and an outspoken Common Core critic, has reviewed the proposed replacement standards and has determined that they overlap significantly with the nationalized learning standards.
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Stotsky, who was hired by Pence to examine the proposed standards, didn’t mince words in a March 17 email to the governor in which she called the replacement learning standards “a warmed-over version” of Common Core.
“I cannot tell you where the problems are in the process that was followed, but Indiana is not on its way to having anything remotely resembling first-class academic standards,” Stotsky wrote to Pence, according to IndyStar.com.
According to the Associated Press, Stotsky’s analysis revealed that “more than 70 percent of the (proposed) standards for sixth through 12th grade are directly from Common Core, and about 20 percent are edited versions of the national standards.”
“About 34 percent of English standards for kindergarten through fifth grade were taken straight from the national standards, and an additional 13 percent were edited,” the AP adds.
Stotsky went so far as to call the replacement standards a “grand deception,” and suggested the governor “is being embarrassed” by Indiana education leaders in charge of the process.
Many Common Core opponents share Stotsky’s concerns, which is why Monday’s bill signing was met with muted enthusiasm.
We happen to think Indiana lawmakers’ decision to scuttle Common Core is a major victory for opponents of nationalized learning. Here’s why: If enough states follow the Hoosier State’s lead and craft their own unique standards – even if they largely resemble Common Core – they will disrupt the overarching purpose of the nationalized standards, which is to get America’s students learning the same concepts at the same time.
This synchronization of the learning process is necessary so the Common Core-aligned tests will generate apples-to-apples data that social engineers can then use to answer any number of questions, such as, “Which teaching practices are most effective?” and “Which teacher training programs produce the best educators?”
The idea is that the data will help the “experts” and K-12 technology gurus to unlock the science behind teaching and learning. (Currently, good teaching is considered an “art.”) If they manage to do that, it’s not too great a leap to imagine that the federal government will “nudge” the nation’s 15,000 school districts into adopting the “best practices” – as determined by the experts – which would effectively put an end to local and state control of public education.
But, thanks to Indiana leaders, those plans are now in great jeopardy. It’s very possible that in a few years from now, the “big idea” behind Common Core will be completely unworkable and the intelligentsia behind the nationalized standards will be pushing another K-12 experiment to restore America’s schools to greatness.