Core confusion

A key question rarely got asked this spring as Indiana legislators debated whether to stick with the Common Core State Standards initiative: What do teachers think?

Now we’ve got an answer. According to the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s teachers overwhelmingly support the standards.

The AFT released results from a nationwide teacher survey on Common Core last weekend at the annual meeting of the Education Writers Association. It found that 75 percent of teachers support their states’ decisions to adopt the standards.

On the other hand, many teachers said their schools aren’t doing enough to help them prepare. And more than four in five back AFT President Randy Weingarten’s call for a one-year moratorium on high-stakes testing based on the standards. Of course, Indiana teachers may or may not agree with teachers in other states.

The AFT survey included 800 teachers in the 45 states that have adopted Common Core and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. It was conducted in March, around the time Indiana lawmakers were debating whether to put the brakes on the standards.

The legislature finally approved House Bill 1427, which calls for a “pause” implementing the standards pending a closer examination by state officials and three public hearings. It also calls for the state Office of Management and Budget to study the cost of implementing or ditching the standards.

It’s confusing enough that both supporters and opponents of Common Core declared victory.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce issued a statement applauding lawmakers for staying the course on the standards. Stand for Children, which also lobbied for keeping the standards, praised the legislature for its “strong support” of Common Core but suggested Gov. Mike Pence veto the bill because it’s not needed. (There’s not much chance of that).

On the other side, Hoosiers Against the Common Core declared the legislation be a “historic” victory. Indianapolis Star columnist Russ Pulliam wrote a column headlined “How Indiana’s grass-root activists took down the Common Core.”

Reading the legislation, it’s hard to conclude the standards got taken down. HB 1427 explicitly doesn’t repeal Indiana’s adoption of the Common Core, and it doesn’t halt the initial roll-out, scheduled to be in place this fall for grades K-2. It says the State Board of Education must vote by July 2014 to adopt standards that, from the language in the bill, sound a lot like Common Core. That’s the same state board that voted unanimously for Common Core in 2010.

But the wild card is Gov. Mike Pence. As the Indianapolis Star’s Scott Elliott has reported, Pence has refused to be pinned down on the Common Core, but his rhetoric – insisting that “we’re going to do education the Indiana way” – suggests he may be more opposed than in favor.

Given the “Corespiracy” mind-set that has taken hold on the right, Pence may sense political gain in making Indiana the first state to junk standards that the Obama administration embraces. He could use upcoming appointments to the State Board of Education to shake things up.

Schools and teachers that have been preparing to implement the Common Core could face a whole new level of uncertainty.

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3 thoughts on “Core confusion

  1. What does this mean for curriculum for Indiana elementary schools that have already rolled out Common Core and did the Common Core ISTEP testing? Will the same curriculum be in place in the fall?

    • I assume the same curriculum will be in place in the fall, but it does feel confusing, doesn’t it? That’s probably something to check with your local school officials.

  2. I have wondered for a while why we use the Common Core standards. The students aren’t benefiting from them and the teachers (dont get me wrong i support teachers) have a record that is not in their favor. Schools fail their test parameters, Students have lowered standards than other countries, and The education system keeps dumbing down the process.

    I am a supporter of the Japanese school structure. Year long education with fewer long holidays. Students would be able to retain more with this school type.

    The reason behind my opinion is that our current school system is set up that what is taught in the spring semester is recovered in the fall semester so that students can “catch up” after the long summer holiday. More focus is put on the mathematics and English skills than any other subject yet I have seen High school graduates here in Fort Wayne that have graduated and struggle to read or even do the simplest maths. How do we graduate students with these low abilities in the “Common Core” standards?

    It should be a no brainer that the system is broken. Whether one wants to blame the schools, the teachers, the parents, or the governments its a simple truth. The Common Core system doesn’t work with our system of education. Students have low grasp of Arts, Geography, Sciences and physical fitness is an option in many schools.

    No fail systems are a joke at best. If the students don’t have a strong sense of accomplishment and cannot deal with failure because they were babied in the school system with this nonsensical no fail system then isn’t it that all the educators are doing is hurting the child in the long run? People fail its a part of life, if the students are passed without the ability to read then the Common Core system failed, the teachers failed, and the education system failed.

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