Indiana leaves Common Core

We have previously discussed our support for Common Core and our concern about states considering dropping the content standards and/or the associated national assessments. Now comes the news that Indiana has pulled out of Common Core, and several other states are considering doing the same. As the Washington Post reports: “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R)…signed new legislation that makes his state the first to opt out of Common Core standards, amid conservative outrage over the education benchmarks. It’s the first major victory for opponents of Common Core…”

Although this is a disappointing development, the Post article explores the fine line that it believes some governors are trying to walk:

“the new law doesn’t mean Indiana students will be learning anything dramatically different from kids in neighboring states. The legislation strikes references to Common Core and requires the state board of education to adopt what it calls “college and career readiness” standards that meet national and international benchmarks and comply with federal standards while maintaining Indiana’s sovereignty…Some critics of the board of education say the standards they are developing hew too closely to Common Core.

“That’s similar to the approach several other states are taking: Pass standards nearly identical to Common Core, but under a different name. An Oklahoma state Senate committee on Monday passed a version that would strip the Common Core name while leaving many or most of the same requirements intact.

“You’ve got these governors who understand the business argument for keeping Common Core,” said Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank. “But they’ve got this tea party base that’s really fired up about this issue, so they’re trying to find a way to walk this fine line by giving voice to the tea party concerns without backing away from higher standards.

"The Indiana bill, which began its life as a straight repeal of Common Core standards, was changed so much and left so many of the common requirements intact that the original author, state Sen. Scott Schneider (R), pulled his name and voted against the final version.”


“Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has been supportive of the new rules, didn’t help the cause when he said in November that opposition comes from “white suburban moms who [find]— all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” Duncan later apologized for his remarks.”

That last quote is a reminder that a gaffe in Washington DC is often defined as accidentally telling the truth. Although it was a mistake for Duncan to bring race into the equation, we agree that quite a bit of the opposition to the Common Core and national assessments is coming from educators and parents who are concerned that the new approach will show their students not performing as well as they thought.