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Common-Core Foe Waters Down Opposition in Indiana

UPDATED

UPDATE: A bill that would require additional public hearings on the Common Core State Standards in Indiana has passed the state senate's education committee on Feb. 13, and now heads to the full senate for a vote, although it is dramatically altered from its original intent.

In one version of this post, I originally wrote that the bill would suspend implementation of the common core. But Scott Elliott of the Indianapolis Star has reported that the common core roll-out planned by the state will proceed as planned, and that the bill ultimately only requires more discussion of the new standards in public hearings by the state board. So it appears that my first interpretation of the bill was incorrect, since it doesn't truly represent a suspension of the standards at all.

At the beginning of this year's legislative session, Sen. Scott Schneider introduced Senate Bill 193, which would require the state to drop the English/language arts and math standards this year. He introduced a similar bill last year as well. But very recently he moderated his opposition by changing his bill to say that the state should suspend implementing the new standards, not drop the common core entirely, the Associated Press reported Feb. 13.

Since the bill doesn't stop or delay implementation of the common core, it's questionable how much progress this represents for common core opponents. Even in the bill's new form, it's also not clear at all whether the GOP leaders in the Indiana House would let the bill get much traction with its members, who control the chamber. In a Feb. 13 statement, American Principles in Action, a conservative nonprofit in Washington opposing the new standards, applauded the vote on the bill "reversing" the common core, although now that seems like an unorthodox (at best) interpretation, given that the bill doesn't require the state to drop the core altogether like it originally did.

I wrote about Schneider's latest proposal in the larger context of common core opposition both in Indiana and in various states. Schneider's previous bill in 2012 to require the Hoosier State to drop the standards failed to get out of committee, and Schneider's attempt to have the legislature study the standards further last summer also failed. So this was really his third attempt to either slow the momentum behind the common core or stop it altogether.

I had been told recently that the scheduled vote on Schneider's bill was delayed at least once, after being scheduled for late January, back to Feb. 13. That did not seem to bode well for the bill's chances to get out of the state senate's education committee (of which Schneider is a member). The bill would require the state board its mind for a final time by the end of 2013.

As I documented in my Feb. 6 story, the board has already highlighted the process by which it adopted the common core in 2010, including public input and much discussion. So it seems unlikely the board would change its mind.

Interestingly enough, this would seem to put Schneider, a Republican, on roughly the same page as state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat who has said she is skeptical of the common-core standards and believes they should be studied further before they go full speed ahead in Indiana. A spokesman for Ritz told Elliott that the altered bill would allow for discussion on the common core that hasn't previously taken place.

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