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Lawmakers Debate New Education Standards
Updated April 21, 2014 6:45 AM | Filed under: Education
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(UNDATED) - The new Indiana academic standards that would replace Common Core will be debated by the Education Roundtable today, even as opponents of Common Core rally against the new standards.

The Roundtable is co-chaired by Governor Pence and State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz and is comprised of teachers, school administrators, state lawmakers and others.

If the Roundtable endorses the new standards, the State Board of Education will take a final vote on them next Monday.

The final draft of the new standards was released last week after thousands of hours of work by evaluation panels working with the State Board of Education. That draft, however, has come under withering criticism from Common Core opponents, and one education policy analyst who has spoken positively about Common Core backed up one of the opponents' main criticisms.

"There are large sections of the new standards that are just copied and pasted from the Common Core standards," said Ashlyn Nelson, an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

"The areas in which the Common Core standards have been changed, (the panels) seem to have just watered down, from my perspective, what was originally included in the Common Core."

That jibes with what Heather Crossin believes about the new standards. Crossin is a parent who was one of the earliest opponents of Common Core in Indiana, and she is now part of Hoosiers Against Common Core.

"It's debatable whether this current draft was actually edited or paraphrased for Hoosiers by Hoosiers, but not necessarily written by Hoosiers, because we know the Common Core was written in Washington D.C. by some other folks," Crossin said, echoing one of the claims made by opponents - that states were not actually involved in writing Common Core.

As for what is actually in, or is not in, the new set of standards, Nelson says the new standards take out part of the Common Core standard on reading specific documents and books.

"The Common Core requires students to read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and at least one Shakespeare play because of their seminal contribution to U.S. history and to culture in general, and those requirements are now gone in the new standards," Nelson said. That would not mean that teachers would be banned from teaching those works, but they would not be required.

Brad Oliver, a State Board member who was critical of how Common Core was adopted in Indiana, says critics of the new standards are confusing standards with curriculum, which even under Common Core was set by the state and by local school boards.

"I think we have to remember that some of the Common Core standards were, in part, based on the previous Indiana academic standards, which at the time Common Core was developed were among the best in the nation," Oliver said.

If that's the case, Crossin says, why not go back to the old Indiana standards?

"Hoosier teachers are familiar with these standards. Many have still been using them in their classroom. I believe that would be the proper route to go given that this process has yielded standards that no one seems happy with."

Hoosiers Against Common Core have scheduled a 1:00pm rally outside the Statehouse just before the Education Roundtable meets at 2:15pm.

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