NewsLocal News / April 22, 2014

Roundtable Endorses New Standards Even As Opponents Object

Paige Clark - TheStatehouseFile.com
Roundtable Endorses New Standards Even As Opponents Object

The Indiana Education Roundtable endorsed new state standards for math and English during a meeting Monday, despite boos from opponents who say the new education guidelines are too much like Common Core.

The standards passed easily and now move to the State Board of Education for a final up-or-down vote.

Members of Hoosiers against the Common Core – a group that has been fighting standards that have been adopted by a majority of states and endorsed by President Barack Obama’s administration – rallied at the Statehouse then marched to the roundtable meeting Monday to show their protest.

“We’re going to that meeting to have them looks us in the eye,” said the group’s co-founder, Erin Tuttle. “We are the people that have to live with the consequences of their decision.”

In 2010, Indiana adopted the standards for math and English but opted out of the science, social studies and history standards set by the Common Core. But as the state began phasing in Common Core, the standards became increasingly controversial.

Last year, the General Assembly paused Common Core’s implementation and ordered education officials to take a second look. Then one month ago, Gov. Mike Pence signed SB 91 – calling for new standards written “by Hoosiers for Hoosiers.” Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the state board have been working through that process.

Pence said Monday that the new standards were created by “the best process” with “more Hoosier input and transparency than ever before.” They combine some of Indiana’s past standards with Common Core and ideas from other states.

The crowd against the new standards booed and laughed as Pence spoke.

“I teach for various colleges here in Indiana and I put together some of my own curriculum,” said David Lantz at the rally prior to the meeting. “I have a master’s degree and so what Common Core does is it pushes anybody that has any knowledge about their subject matter from creating competing text books.”

Molly Chamberlin, chief assessment and accountability officer for the Center for Education and Career Innovation, said the process included an evaluation board, assessment board, and a college and career ready panel.

For the first time in Indiana, the standards included math beyond algebra two – trigonometry, pre-calculus – and focused on the integration from high school to post-secondary options.

“There are things that other states will learn from our process,” Chamberlain said. The crowd, again, responded with a laugh.

“We always worried the that we would have a Common Core rebrand, but what I never imagined is that they would produce a set of new standards that is actually worse than the Common Core. That really shocked me. It contains more of what of we didn’t want and less of what we advocated for,” Tuttle said. “To me the new standards are really a smack in the face to parents who have fought really hard in opposition to Common Core.”

Despite the crowd’s loud objections, the standards passed – math 21-2, one abstention, and English 21-3.

Wendy Robinson, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent, said the issue is complex and should be treated that way.

“People want to simplify something that is very complicated,” Robinson said. “I had to re-read (the new standards.) But I had to re-read the ones in 2000 too. We’re acting as if these are different from the (standards) adopted in 2000.”

A big difference between the old and new standards is the focus on “media literacy” – which became controversial at the meeting. Amos Brown, a talk show host for AM 1310, said it was unreasonable to expect teachers to fully understand what media is.

“Was anyone in the media consulted on this?” Brown said. “I think the standards need to respect the simple Hoosier language.”

Danielle Shockey, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Indiana Department of Education, said the term “media” was being misunderstood. She said the standard related to using the media and deciding what sources are credible and which aren’t.

“(Students) need to be taught how to be critical thinkers,” Shockey said.

Even though the “media literacy” standard was added to the curriculum, it will not be a part of the assessment testing, said State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

The new standards move onto the Board of Education and must be finalized by July 1 of this year. However, they will not be fully implemented until the 2015-2016 school year.

Pence said Indiana is the first state to repeal the Common Core standards.

“I am grateful to every Hoosier who knew that Indiana could do better than the Common Core,” Pence said. “The Indiana standards before you today, I believe, were crafted in the Indiana way. I trust Hoosiers, I trust our teachers who worked in good faith to craft these standards.”

Paige Clark is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.