Less than four years after Indiana became an early adopter of the national Common Core education standards, Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation Monday making Indiana the first state to opt out of the controversial school guidelines.
But the law does not prohibit parts of Common Core from being written into new standards that are expected to be voted on by the state Board of Education late next month.
Pence said his signing of Senate Bill 91 — one of 20 education-related bills he signed into law Monday — would make Indiana a model for other states to follow in taking control of what their students are taught.
“I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the county that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards,” Pence said, “and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens and parents, and developed standards that meet the needs of our people.”
Others have been quick to point out that the law does not prevent drawing from Common Core standards to create the new math and English benchmarks required to begin July 1 for all public schools. State education officials overseeing the drafts have been criticized for allowing the standards to be bloated and too similar to Common Core.
When asked whether it would be a concern if Indiana’s new standards were similar to Common Core but under different name, Pence said content is what matters.
“Where we get those standards, where we derive them from, to me is of less significance than are we actually serving the best interests of our kids,” Pence said. “And are these standards going to be, to use my often-used phrase, uncommonly high?”
It’s a move that seemed unthinkable in 2010, when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett ushered in Common Core as the math and English skills students were expected to learn in each grade level to prepare them for college or work after graduation.
Indiana was one of 45 states to adopt the standards, developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents.
In the years since, the tea party and other conservative groups have assailed Common Core for taking away states’ power to set education goals.
More than 200 bills on Common Core were introduced this year in state legislatures across the nation, and about half would slow or halt implementation of the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Oklahoma is among states considering implementing different standards. A Senate panel there voted Monday in favor of a measure that would effectively halt the use of Common Core.
Indiana’s next standards need to be considered “college and career ready” by the U.S. Department of Education so the state can continue receiving a waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Indiana was granted a waiver to remove the “adequate yearly progress” on state tests by adopting standards for the 2014-15 school year. Without a waiver, the state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.
h/t Indy Star