---- — A comedian once observed the reason they call it “horse sense” is because horses don’t bet on people.
With passage of Senate Bill 91 and its moving through the House, many may think our withdrawing from the federal Common Core education program is a sure bet.
After all, Common Core has become so controversial across the nation that Gov. Mike Pence said in his State of the State address, “When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high. They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation.”
Senate Bill 91 voids Indiana’s education standards that were modeled after the Common Core and requires the State Board of Education to adopt new ones. This was welcome news to opponents of Common Core worried about lower academic standards, political indoctrination of students, state sovereignty, and a move away from Indiana’s past standards that had received wide acclaim from various educational groups.
Some opponents of Common Core are beginning to wonder if some politicians and the education establishment are simply moving the shells around the table. They worry that SB 91 could become a way to confuse parents with “new” standards that are actually Common Core by another name.
Notice what Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Derek Redelman, one of the Common Core’s leading advocates, wrote: “It is unfortunate that SB 91 is being misreported in this way. In reality, it does NOT dump Common Core but allows the State Board of Education to continue the review of our state standards that is already underway. Per legislation that passed last year, that review will result in a set of recommended standards that could be identical to Common Core, an Indiana version of Common Core, or something completely different ... So in other words, SB 91 changes nothing.”
What does Mr. Redelman know that supporters of SB 91 do not? Hoosiers Against Common Core believes it has the answer. It has done an extensive review of the backgrounds of the individuals selected to sit on the State Board’s evaluation panel and College and Career Readiness panel that will create and evaluate the new standards.
Hoosiers Against Common Core found “an unhealthy pro-Common Core bias on these panels.” This is based upon the large number of members who have signed pledges of support for Common Core, testified in favor of it, or have been employed by education and testing companies pushing the national Common Core program. At least half of one committee’s members and one-third of the other charged with creating our own standards have supported the controversial Common Core federal program.
Legislators who supported SB 91 and want Indiana to control its education destiny need to ask if the State Board has set up a losing bet for parents who have concerns about our following the national Common Core standards.
Micah Clark is director of the American Family Association of Indiana, and served on the Governor’s Education Roundtable under Govs. O’Bannon and Kernan.