Monday, April 21, 2014

Hoosier Nightmare...a Cautionary Tale

Watching the state of Indiana go through its painful gyrations in an attempt to create the Hoosier's very own curriculum standards makes me smile. I know it's not polite to enjoy the folly of others. My mother would not be proud. But the schadenfreude moment that comes with recalling how Kentucky could have been in the same boat is just too savory. I can't help it.  ...until I remember that there are real school kids and teachers being jerked around by this obstructionist politicking. And that makes me sad.

If the Kentucky legislature had followed the lead of Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown and passed Senate Bill 224 Kentucky would now be in the same mess as our neighbors - with somewhere around $35 million dollars wasted in the process.

And for what?

Here's Indiana's experience so far:
  • In March prompted by Indiana's TEA Party faction, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed off on legislation to toss the Common Core.
  • To formally leave the Common Core, the Indiana State Board of Education must find a replacement.
  • Indiana now races to create new Indiana Standards for what students should learn in each grade before July.
  • Proposed standards, months in the making, were passed last week and the early reviews weren't at all what CCSS opponents had hoped for.
  • Opinions vary, but educators seem to think that Indiana's new standards draw heavily from the common Core Standards.
  • The new standards now seem to be devoid of advocates.
  • There is a demonstration planned at the Indiana statehouse today where TEA Party protesters plan to demonstrate against the fruit of their former labors.
 This from ChalkBeat Indiana:

Indiana’s proposed new standards enter critical phase

Over the next eight days, two government boards will judge them

The final draft of Indiana’s academic standards were released last week and already the question is: do the new standards have any allies?

Dismayed by the similarity between the new standards and Common Core, groups that successfully persuaded lawmakers to void Common Core are planning a statehouse protest today.

But Common Core proponents are also railing against Indiana’s standards.

“In short, Indiana has inexplicably gutted the Common Core of its strongest elements, renamed what remains, and moved forward swiftly with a campaign to secure adoption of this pale, skills-heavy, content-light, text-neutral document,” Kathleen Porter-Magee wrote last week on behalf of the pro-Common Core Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a review of the new English standards. “It may be too late for this generation of Indiana schoolchildren.”

Even without allies in either camp, the new standards could still make it through a gauntlet over the next eight days that is expected to include votes by two government bodies. If both approve, the much-maligned standards will become the academic guidelines for Indiana educators beginning this summer despite all the backlash.

The first step is today’s Education Roundtable meeting.

Notes from a committee working on creating new Indiana math standards in February. (Scott Elliott)
Notes from new Indiana math standards
The Roundtable, created by the legislature in 1999 to ensure the state has high academic standards and an effective testing system, makes recommendations the governor, state superintendent, Indiana General Assembly and Indiana State Board of Education. Co-chaired by Gov. Mike Pence and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, it includes 32 members representing K-12 schools, colleges, business, labor, parents, the community and the legislature.

The large group, including many members who have not weighed in on the standards debate, and perhaps have not made up their minds, adds a bit of uncertainty today’s meeting.
For example, late last week WTLC radio host Amos Brown, a roundtable member, tweeted that he was struggling to quickly evaluate the wide-ranging, and at times difficult to decipher, standards with less than a week before he would be asked to vote on them.

His final tweet was:
If the standards make it through the roundtable, they’ll face a new challenge at their next stop, the April 28 state board meeting. Just over a year ago, the state board unanimously reaffirmed its support for Common Core. But five of the 11 board members have changed since then.
Among the new members is Andrea Neal, a private school teacher and former Indianapolis Star editorial writer, who opposes Common Core and has been deeply critical of the new standards. Neal has been in close contact with three college professors asked by the state to review the new standards and has trumpeted their criticisms.

But other new board members have expressed support for the standards creation process, including Cari Whicker, a Huntington middle school teacher and Brad Oliver, associate dean of Indiana Wesleyan University’s educational leadership school.

Board members also complained earlier this month when they discovered they couldn’t make changes to the standards on April 28 without knocking the process entirely off schedule. If the state board makes changes after the standards are approved by the roundtable, the changes would have to again go before the roundtable so both bodies would approve them.

But there is little room for error. State law requires new standards to be set by the state board no later than July 1.


Anonymous said...

to formally leave....

Split Infinitive!

So much for standards....

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should let teachers be in charge of what is taught and teaching that the best we can, and let politicians just do what they do. . . which is. . . argue, waste our time and money, posture, work toward reelection and basically do nothing. I sense that if we flipped jobs between educators and legislators that kids would barely know how to write or add and educators would . . . well I don't know but the certainly couldn't do any worse than the politicians they replace.