The Indiana Education Roundtable, led by Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, recommended that a new set of English/language arts and math standards be adopted by the state school board. The Roundtable reached that recommendation at its April 21 meeting, and the standards are to be considered by the state board on April 28. If the state board adopts them, the move will officially replace the board's adoption of the Common Core State Standards back in 2010.
There were two previous drafts of the standards before the final version, based on the common core and Indiana's prior content standards, was submitted to the Roundtable. In remarks at the April 21 meeting, Pence expressed pleasure with how the standards evolved. Remember, at the start of the year, Pence announced that he wanted the state's content standards to be authored "by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers." Several months later, the governor seems satisfied with what's taken place.
"After a careful review of this process and the outcome, I believe Indiana has accomplished this task," he told the Roundtable.
And Ritz pledged that there would be no "loss of local control" if the state were to adopt the new standards. (Here's an interesting twist: Indiana classrooms are already using a hybrid of the common core with previous Indiana content standards—just not the hybrid that the state board will now consider.)
But this meeting was open to the general public, and some in the audience responded angrily and loudly to Pence's words. Why? Among veteran anti-common-core activists in the state, there's a sense that the new standards are just common core in a new set of clothes. In fact, there are several key similarities between the new standards and the common core. Whether you think that's a good or bad thing, of course, depends on how you view the common core itself.
Scott Elliott, of Chalkbeat Indiana, posted the following picture of those who believe that Pence and others are breaking their promise to truly move the state away from the common core:
Here's a look at today's statehouse rally against Indiana's proposed standards. pic.twitter.com/7RdqTaVT9P— Scott Elliott (@ScottElliott_IN) April 21, 2014
So now it's the state board's move.
Remember, for the 2014-15 school year, Indiana still plans to administer its long-running state assessment, ISTEP. After that, however, the state doesn't have an assessment picked out. If the state board approves the new standards a week from now, that might be the next significant battle for state education leaders and activists.