by Jim Lang
News that the very people who have created a mess of Indiana education are now considering abandoning Common Core Standards should have educators and critics of corporate education “reform” especially thankful this Thanksgiving.
Yes, the GOP, the party that signed on to the set of national standards created by governors and state school chiefs in 2010, now appears ready to reverse itself, according to an article in the NWI Times.
If true, could it be that the GOP, the party that eagerly tore into Indiana public schools like crazed dogs into a Thanksgiving turkey, has actually listened to educators they have scorned and insulted for so long?
More significantly, could it be that Hoosier Republicans are finally going to act like conservatives again and begin rejecting a nationalized set of standards that wastes money and offers little-to-no improvement in schools at all?
More than likely, they see the backlash building against Common Core as other states begin backing out of the initiative. Even GOP darling Scott Walker in Wisconsin is feeling the Common Core heat as the Tea Party pressures him to pull out of Common Core.
Suddenly, legislators all across America are realizing what Indiana Republicans — including former governor Mitch Daniels, former superintendent of public instruction Tony Bennett, the State Board of Education, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate failed to realize from the start — that the national Common Core initiative financed largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and embraced by corporate leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, potentially reduces local control and comes with a hefty price tag.
In other words, it’s not conservative.
As an skeptic of the Common Core initiative since the beginning, I suppose I should be thankful that Hoosier leaders may have finally seen the light and are listening to what so many qualified Indiana educators have said about the Common Core Standards since the beginning — that they were expensive and unnecessary.
But I suspect that this sudden enlightenment has less to do with what’s best for students and schools and more to do with manipulating Hoosier voters.
According to the NWI Times article, House Speaker Brian Bosma calls the Common Core Standards “a distraction,” and points out, “It is the only thing that approaches the phrase ‘Obamacare’ with concern and violent reaction around the state.”
And here we may be seeing next move in the GOP manipulation machine — subtly linking the Common Core fiasco to Barack Obama. Because everything that doesn’t work must be Barack Obama’s fault.
Now, it is certainly true that the Obama Administration and current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan leaped eagerly onto the Common Core bandwagon and have made it a focal point of their Race to the Top agenda, even if they haven’t always done so eloquently, as seen by Duncan’s recent misstep in insulting suburban moms. As I have stated previously here, this President is no friend to public education.
But one view of the timeline of the Common Core initiative reveals that Washington, D.C. and Barack Obama had nothing — that’s right, nothing — to do with the creation of Common Core. In fact, it was governors and state school chiefs during the Bush administration — many of the same education reformers who embraced corporate education “reform” in their own states — who began developing Common Core Standards before Barack Obama was even a candidate for president.
A closer look at implementation of Common Core in Indiana reveals a similar truth: this has been an agenda that Indiana Republicans once proudly embraced.
It was clearly their agenda, and they implemented it despite concerns from many vocal critics.
So, let’s be clear here. Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, and the federal government simply supported an initiative that was developed and initiated in many states, including in Indiana, by Republicans.
It is important that Hoosier voters understand this, because I have a feeling that the very people who are responsible for creating this mess will now attempt to initiate the most elaborate flip-flop in the history of Indiana politics.
Suddenly, the very people who have worked tirelessly to implement one nitwit education “reform” idea after another will now stand united against the evils of federal intrusion, socialism, Barack Obama, and any other terrifying big government monster they can create to distract Hoosier voters from the truth — that the Common Core Standards are the result of corporate education “reform” initiated at the state level far more than at a federal level.
The roots of Common Core lie in the corporate interests that seek to own and profit from our schools. While the Obama Administration hooked the federal government to the Common Core train to disaster, it was initially the plan of state officials, largely Republicans, that constructed the train, laid the tracks, and charted the destination. Especially in Indiana.
It was their plan.
Just like the creation of an unnecessary second education agency at taxpayer expense with no legislative or public debate at all.
Just like the implementation of the nation’s most expansive government-sponsored school voucher program.
Just like the support for charter schools that often never exceed — or even meet — the academic standards or accomplishments of most public schools.
Just like their continued support for ideas like merit pay that studies prove have little-to-no impact at all on student achievement or teacher motivation to excel.
Just like their continued willful disrespect for superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz, the voters she represents, and defiance of Open Door policies designed to maintain transparent government.
One of the advantages to having one political party so solidly in control of every level of state government is that it eventually becomes easy for voters to see who is responsible for all decisions, both good and bad.
Hoosier voters began to realize last year that we do not like what we see when it comes to Indiana education policy. That is why we elected Glenda Ritz. And since then, we have seen a double-down of bad policy, more disrespect toward teachers and educators, and a disturbing lack of good judgment and ethics by our state government.
And that is the real reason, I believe, why we may see such a sudden shift away from Common Core Standards.
Because those most responsible for Common Core Standards in Indiana now need voters to conveniently forget that this was their idea. They own this, and they now need us to forget that fact.
As voters and citizens, we owe it to our children, our schools, and ourselves to understand and remember whose agenda some of our state “leaders” now prepare to abandon.