Ever since the defeat of a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington-based conservative think tank which ideologically might have been sympathetic with common standards foes, the question for those foes has been where they would go from there. Without the stamp of ALEC's influential approval, what would be their strategy?
Indiana Sen. Scott Schneider, a Republican, has one straightforward strategy—he has proposed legislation that would require Indiana to withdraw from the common standards in English/language arts and math, the Associated Press has reported. "I am worried that common core was pushed on Indiana without proper review of what it will mean for students and teachers," Schneider said in a press statement Wednesday. His bill is scheduled for a committee hearing Jan. 16.
The legislation, if approved, would mean that Indiana would become the first state to withdraw from the common standards altogether, and a move that would sting for common core proponents and those working on the assessments. It would also represent a stinging rebuke for Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, a Republican and common standards champion who is transitioning to Florida's top education position after getting the boot in Indiana's Nov. 6 election in favor of Democrat Glenda Ritz, now the superintendent-elect. (Ritz herself has questioned the common standards and the core's new battery of tests.) After he lost, Bennett warned that the common core could be in jeopardy for Hoosiers, and this at least represents one lawmaker's attempt to make Bennett's prophecy closer to reality.
However, it's not clear that either incoming Republican Gov. Mike Pence or Republican leadership in the legislature would even contemplate siding with Schneider. Remember, ALEC's national chairman in 2012 when the group shot down the anti-common core proposal was Indiana Rep. Dave Frizzell, a Republican.
Schneider voiced opposition to the common standards in January 2012, and has pushed for a further "study" of the standards.
Still, the news brings to mind a conversation I just had with Emmett McGroarty with the American Principles Project, a Washington-based nonprofit vigorously opposed to the standards due to the belief that they represent federal intrusion into K-12 and bad education policy. In an interview I did for a story I'm working on for a later date, he said that groups like his have been active at the grassroots level in several states, and he highlighted Indiana as a state where he saw good results from that kind of work. He listed several other states like Colorado, where anti-common core lobbying is also underway.
"I think there's a strong possibility that a state or two will withdraw this year, maybe more," McGroarty said.
He has obvious reasons for making that prediction, but Schneider's plan proves it's not totally off base.