February 5, 2014
As states nationwide continue to implement the Common Core State Standards in public schools, some activists and lawmakers are making strides in efforts to repeal or repackage the controversial academic benchmarks.
In Indiana, the state Senate's Education and Career Development Committee voted to send a measure repealing the standards to the Senate floor. The bill would do away with current instruction based off the standards, and task the State Board of Education with creating new college-and-career-ready standards by July 1. In May, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a measure that halted any further implementation of the Common Core until the state board of education conducts an evaluation of the standards.
"This voids Common Core, and we are starting the process of writing new standards. Eternal vigilance of parents is still needed, and I encourage you to do so," said Sen. Scott Schneider, the author of the bill passed Wednesday, according to the Indianapolis Star. "SB 91 is a strong statement that we are moving forward, moving away from Common Core, protecting Indiana sovereignty and student data."
Meanwhile, South Dakota's House of Representatives narrowly rejected a similar bill, which would have halted further expansion of the standards. The two states adopted the standards in 2010, with the backing of former governors Mitch Daniels and M. Michael Rounds, both Republicans.
Although the standards were widely and rapidly adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia after their release in the summer of 2010, more opponents are pressuring their state legislators to enact measures that would do away with the core.
South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Kentucky?the first state to adopt the standards before they were even publicly released?all have measures moving through their state legislators to at least halt, if not completely abolish the standards. Four separate attempts to nullify the standards have failed in Alabama, while similar attempts also failed to pass in Georgia, Missouri and Kansas.
While some states have looked for the exit sign due to concerns over the content of the standards, others have been considering backing out because in many cases, the implementation of the standards has been troubled.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has said that Common Core implementation is "far worse" than the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In Connecticut, state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano said at a community forum that she has introduced legislation to push the pause button on Common Core until legislators have time to consider feedback, according to The Day.
And Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy also called for a delay in the coupling of teacher evaluations and student performance on Common Core tests next year.
"It's apparent that we're trying to do a lot of things at once and that becomes difficult because people are stressed," Malloy said, according to the Hartford Courant. "We need to recognize that when that happens, it's important that we relieve the significant demands on teachers and administrators and systems."
Still, some opponents say the standards, which have been strongly supported by the federal government (and given states financial incentives through Race to the Top grants), are an overreach into local control of education standards and curriculum.
"Common Core threatens our high standards and our ability to determine as a state what our students need to learn to be prepared for a successful future," Schneider said in an April statement. "With the federal government's involvement pushing states to adopt the standards, this is no longer a state-led initiative, and Indiana has lost its ability to set its own education policy."
While some states are seeking to repeal the standards and replace them with their own in-house standards, others have simply chosen to continue using the Common Core standards, but under another name.
Arizona, Florida and Iowa have all renamed the standards as "Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards," the "Next Generation Sunshine State Standards" and "The Iowa Core," respectively.
Upon signing the executive order to change the name of Arizona's standards, Gov. Jan Brewer said the move was "reaffirming Arizona's right to set education policy," although the Common Core standards will still be used.
Erin Tuttle, a co-founder of the Indiana-based group Hoosiers Against Common Core, says that although the overall message of Indiana's measure (SB 91) is good, there are "mixed signals" within the requirements the bill spells out that present similar problems to renaming the standards.
The bill would require any new state-developed college and career readiness standards to meet "national and international benchmarks" and use "the highest standards in the United States," which Tuttle says would eliminate the possibility of the state using Common Core.
But at the same time, the bill stipulates that the standards must comply with federal standards to receive a waiver from No Child Left Behind, and should "maintain Indiana sovereignty."
"That's somewhat of an oxymoron because they basically negate each other," Tuttle says. "You want sovereignty as a state, as long as you're meeting federal requirements."
She says she is concerned that the new standards state officials would develop would essentially be a repackaging of the Common Core standards in order to meet the requirements of the bill -- in the same way a new name does repackages them.
"If the people at the Indiana Department of Education and the people in Gov. Pence's State Board of Education believe they can just repackage it and put a different name on it, and no one will know the difference, that's na?ve," Tuttle says. "Putting junky standards through a legitimate process does not satisfy the opposition to Common Core. We take issue with the actual content in the standards."
But Tuttle says that if the bill passes and becomes law -- which she believes it will -- that it would be "a horrible precedent" for state legislators. She says doing so would set into law that the state is limiting itself to federal requirements, and that doing so in education is particularly troubling, as education is a power reserved to states.
"This is a larger problem than just with the Common Core," Tuttle says. "You can't maintain Indiana sovereignty if you're constantly having to please the federal government."
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