Indiana has new academic standards, but Common Core opponents are still fuming.
By a 10-1 vote, the Indiana State Board of Education adopted the new standards today, following the lead of the Education Roundtable, which voted overwhelmingly in support of the new standards last week.
“I’m pleased we can finally bring this debate to a close and adopt a set of standards that will prepare Hoosier students for graduation,” board member Gordon Hendry said before voting yes. “I hope that, with this conversation behind us, we can stick with the standards and make sure we are not continually moving the goalposts on our students and teachers.”
The forces who led the charge against Common Core in Indiana, however, were dispirited by what the state will get in their place. The group held a rally last week with more than 150 demonstrators who packed the Roundtable meeting before leaving disappointed.
“I’m here to tell you I’ve lost faith,” said Heather Crossin, one of the founders of Hoosiers Against Common Core, calling the standards setting process a sham. “There was an end result in place from the very beginning and this process was designed to give that end result, which was rebranding Common Core.”
Andrea Neal, the lone no vote, said both the English and math standards are a step back for the state, but she was particularly critical of the math standards.
“It’s malpractice to adopt math standards that make no sense to mathematicians,” she said to a big cheer from the Common Core opponents in the audience.
That was the minority view on the board, however. B.J. Watts, a board member and elementary school teacher from Evansville, said he felt most teachers joined him in supporting the new standards.
“I’m proud of them because I honestly think we are doing the right thing,” he said.
Indiana, once an early champion of Common Core, has stepped back from the standards that 45 states agreed to follow. In 2013, lawmakers ordered a pause in implementation of Common Core and this year followed up with another bill voiding the 2010 decision to adopt them and ordering new standards by July 1.
Gov. Mike Pence and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz hailed the new standards as created “by Hoosiers and for Hoosiers” at last week’s roundtable meeting. Since February, committees of educators and experts selected the new standards from among several sets of standards they reviewed, including Common Core, the state’s prior standards, standards followed by other states and those offered by professional organizations.
“As I’ve watched and listened, it seems that fear can outpace fact,” board member Brad Oliver said before voting for the new standards. “The question I keep coming back and asking myself is: do these statement reflect the most critical knowledge and skills that children need?”
To critics, the new standards look much the same as Common Core to them.
“I still wear my ‘say no to Common Core” button,’ ” opponent Stephanie Engleman told the state board prior to the vote. “That’s because we still have Common Core and we will continue to have Common Core if you adopt the standards before you today.”
But Ritz backed the team the led the standards process, who argued Common Core’s architects actually incorporated many Indiana standards as they built Common Core standards. That helps explain the similarity, Ritz said.
“Indiana did play a pretty integral part, their standards being rated so high to begin with, in the formation of the Common Core,” she said. “There are things all kids need to know and be able to do that are found in all of the sets of standards that we reviewed. That’s what people need to keep in mind.”
Common Core was designed to assure all high school graduates are ready for college or careers, but Indiana critics have said they worried that the shared standards ceded too much control over the states’ education systems to the federal government. Creation of Common Core was led by the state governors but the standards were later endorsed and promoted by the U.S. Department of Education.
One of the few educators to speak during the public comment portion of today’s meeting was Tim McRoberts, principal of Speedway High School, who said it was time to move on from the standards debate so teachers could do their work.
“We’ve been preparing and working toward this for a few years now,” he said. “We’re ready to move forward.”