Monday, April 29, 2013

Resistance to the nationwide K-12 school standards known as Common Core is now on full display in Indiana.

Less than a week after Michigan lawmakers took aim at the system, the Indiana legislature over the weekend passed a bill to “halt” its implementation. The measure, which is now on Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s desk, calls for more cost estimates of Common Core and a series of town-hall meetings before it can be implemented further.

The standards were scheduled to be fully in place by next year.

While other anti-Common Core steps have been bitter, the Indiana vote is especially tough to swallow for supporters of the system. Former Republican governor and education reform movement hero Mitch Daniels has been an out-front and vocal champion of the standards.

With Mr. Daniels gone, opponents of Common Core are seizing the momentum in Indiana.

“This movement against Common Core started with citizen involvement. Our success with this legislation would not have been possible without the concerned Hoosiers around the state taking action,” said Republican state Sen. Scott Schneider, who helped lead the charge against the standards. “Education decisions should be made by Hoosiers and not ceded to unelected bureaucrats many miles away.”

Those “unelected bureaucrats” include the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which crafted Common Core. The system does not establish a national curriculum but instead lays out math and English language arts concepts that each student is expected to know at the end of every grade level.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have voluntarily adopted them, but a growing number are getting cold feet. Critics of the system expect those second thoughts to continue.

“What’s happened is that people are waking up to the reality that they’ve really lost control over large swaths of education policymaking,” said Emmett McGroarty, executive director of the Preserve Innocence Project at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group and outspoken opponent of Common Core.

Last week, the Michigan state House passed legislation prohibiting any funding for Common Core, which would effectively kill the standards if it moves through the state Senate and is signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.

Similar anti-Common Core sentiment has sprung up in states across the country. It’s that grass-roots resistance which drove the Republican National Committee earlier this month to adopt a resolution condemning the standards and calling for states to withdraw from the system.

The RNC took that dramatic step even though many prominent GOP figures, including Mr. Daniels, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, still strongly support Common Core.

Backers of the standards, including the Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by Mr. Bush, argue that critics misunderstand them, or that they’ve fallen victim to misinformation.

One of the chief misnomers has been that the Obama administration wrote the standards and has thrust them upon the states. While the White House supports Common Core and has encouraged states to adopt it by offering money and other perks, the administration did not craft the system, nor is participation mandatory.


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