Has Gov. Pence Just Saved the Common Core in Indiana?
At first blush, it appears that through his newly appointed members to the state board of education, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has decided to keep the Common Core State Standards in the Hoosier State.
How so? The Associated Press notes that among the governor's six new appointees to the 11-member state board made on June 13, Pence, a Republican. has decided to keep two of the current board members. That seems very important, because the board previously voted unanimously to adopt the standards back in 2010, and since then, the board has maintained its steadfast support for the common core even as political opposition has grown in the state.
The math, then, becomes simple. A total of six members on the new, 11-member board will have served on the same board that unanimously adopted the standards three years ago. In theory, that gives common core the majority of votes it needs to keep the standards. The board includes Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, who has questioned the standards and is a voting member, but if six pro-common-core votes remain on the board, it doesn't ultimately matter, as Scott Elliott of the Indianapolis Star pointed out today.
The Associated Press leads its story with the fact that one of Pence's appointees, Andrea Neal, has been an outspoken critic of the standards. But unless Neal and others can convince at least one, if not more, board members from the 2010 cadre that they should switch sides and oppose common core, her opposition may not mean much. Another new selection, Brad Oliver, seems like he's on the fence.
Now, Neal and common-core opponents will have a pretty prominent chance to make their case. Remember, earlier this year, Pence signed a bill that common-core foes said will "pause" the standards in Indiana pending a review and legislative hearings, although it's not clear that the bill really pauses anything. But standards opponents will get the publicity they want during these hearings to pressure the board members, as well as Pence and others, that the standards are a bad idea and would cede too much control to individuals and groups outside the state.
So the math could still swing against the common core—nothing is certain. But it looks as though, if the newly constituted state board were to hold another vote on common core right now, the standards would stay.