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Stronger Common Core backlash at Indianapolis meeting

Emily Camenisch came from more than two hours from Corydon to tell state board members draft standards were too much like Common Core standards at the Indiana State Library. (Scott Elliott)
Emily Camenisch came from more than two hours from Corydon to tell state board members draft standards were too much like Common Core standards at the Indiana State Library. (Scott Elliott)

Indiana State Board of Education members got an earful today from parents who oppose Common Core standards and argued the state’s newly created draft standards still are too similar.

The second of three public input meetings on the proposed standards was held at the Indiana State Museum. A similar meeting was held Monday in Sellersburg and one is planned for Wednesday in Plymouth.

Today’s meeting was better attended than Monday’s, but still had stretches of silence after the list of speakers was exhausted and everyone one waited until new speakers arrived. The Indianapolis meeting was even more heavily populated with parents with Common Core concerns than Sellersburg.

Even so, some of them were frustrated that their concerns weren’t being heard.

“It seems to be a done deal,” said Emily Camenisch, a homeschooler who came from more than two hours from Corydon. “I don’t think that’s acceptable. Maybe it’s a lost cause but you don’t stop fighting.”

Common Core is a set of learning standards that Indiana and 45 other states agreed to follow. But since their adoption in 2010, push back has been led by conservatives, who believe Common Core is inferior to Indiana’s prior standards or that they cede too much control over education to policymakers outside the state.

The standard-setting process was sparked by the Indiana legislature, which last year “paused” implementation of Common Core and this year has advanced a bill that would void Common Core and require new standards by July 1. The draft standards to replace Common Core were completed last week by committees of educators and experts from around the state.

But most of the speakers today felt the draft standards were still too similar to Common Core.

“If the English standards are an improvement I don’t see it,” said Bonnie Fisher of the Bloomington-based group Global Education Reform Watch. “The standards are essentially the same as CCS (Common Core standards).”

Amy Nichols, who said she worked as a math specialist as a private school, estimated that half of the proposed algebra standards were identical to Common Core algebra standards.

The process, she said, is moving too fast for parents and others to make their concerns known.

“Why are we so rushed,” she asked, “especially when we already drafted standards in 2009? This draft of standards is going in the wrong direction.”

Schauna Findlay, president of the Indiana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development reviewed the standards for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. She had a different concern.The draft has too many standards, she said, making them unfocused.

“We have suffered from overcrowded standards for too long,” she said.

Even with such strong objections, state board member Gordon Hendry said he was not discouraged about the draft standards.

“The process is going well,” he said. “We’d like to have more input but it’s important we act quickly.”

Hendry said he was not concerned about the influence of Common Core on the standards because he was confident the state board would sort out those issues.

“Whatever is ultimately adopted,” he said, “will be Hoosier standards.”

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