Indiana on Monday became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core math and reading standards that outline what students should be learning, capitalizing on a conservative backlash but leaving some critics wondering whether the state is leaving the program in name only.
Indiana was among 45 states that adopted Common Core in the last few years, but some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools
In signing legislation Monday to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he believes the state’s students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level. The Republican-controlled Legislature had previously approved the measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new standards outlining what students should be learning in each grade.
“I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people,” Pence said.
Indiana is at the head of the pack to go back to state standards, but rumblings of dissent have popped up across the country.
More than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That’s about an 85 percent increase from last year.
Oklahoma is among states considering implement different standards. A state Senate panel voted Monday in favor of a measure that would effectively halt the use of Common Core.
Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents. Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 under then-Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican. But by 2012, tea party anger had engulfed the national education standards and conservative anger over the national requirements helped turn Bennett out of office.
Experts on both sides of the fiery debate have said the Common Core standards are strikingly similarly to ones previously used in Indiana – and any program the state adopts as an alternative is unlikely to be much different. Retired University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, a Common Core opponent whom Pence asked to review a draft of new Indiana standards up for a final State Board of Education vote April 28, called the proposed changes a “warmed-over version of Common Core’s standards” for English, the Indianapolis Star reported Monday.
The original author of the measure removing Indiana from the national standards, state Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Carmel, pulled his name from the bill at the last minute this month after learning that other lawmakers had altered the measure to require the state to still meet national education standards so it won’t lose federal funding.