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Bill blocking Common Core gets green light for committee hearing

A bill that would void Common Core academic standards in Indiana will get a hearing in House Education Committee next week, which could quickly lead to the bill being passed by the full House.

On Tuesday, House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said he and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, were still in discussion about whether to give Senate Bill 91 a hearing. The bill easily passed the Senate last month 36-12.

Two days later, Behning said the decision was made to move the bill forward.

Behning had indicated on Tuesday that he and Bosma considered waiting to see how an effort by the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Board of Education to create new Indiana academic standards progressed. Behning suggested if good progress was made the bill might not be needed.

Work to finalize new standards began today as expert committees crafting them met in Indianapolis. Teams of educators are reviewing Common Core, Indiana’s prior standards and standards from outside the state to build a new list of state standards. They expect to release draft standards of what Indiana children should learn at every grade level in English and math as early as mid-month. Then three public feedback meetings are already planned in northern, central and southern Indiana before the end of February.

Indiana is currently one of 46 states that have agreed to follow the same standards, which are aimed at assuring high school graduates are ready for college or careers. In 2013, the legislature approved a bill to “pause” Indiana’s implementation of Common Core to allow time for a review of the standards and a new vote of the Indiana State Board of Education by July 1.

Behning supported Common Core in the past and but said he is OK with Senate Bill 91, as its timeline coincides with the standard-setting process that’s underway.

If the House Education Committee passes Senate Bill 91, it would avoid any danger that its supporters might have to scramble for other options. Without a committee vote, the bill would have died before it reached the House floor. If that had happened, language from the bill could have only been revived if it was amended into another education bill, requiring agreement from the other bill’s sponsor.

With Behning and Bosma declining to stand in the way, the bill stands a good chance of passing the committee and the full House.