(INDIANAPOLIS) - Governor Mike Pence has signed a bill pulling Indiana from the reading and math education standards adopted by most states around the country.
The governor's office says Pence signed on Monday the proposal approved by legislators requiring the State Board of Education to draft new standards outlining what students should be learning in each grade rather than using the Common Core standards currently in place.
Pence said in a statement he believed Indiana's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level.
Many Republican lawmakers pushed for the withdrawal from Common Core, which the state board adopted in 2010 under then-GOP state schools superintendent Tony Bennett. The National Governors Association and state education superintendents developed Common Core.
The move comes as a debate rages over the role of the Common Core curriculum across the country. Indiana is among about a dozen states seeking to delay or abandon Common Core standards. So far, it's the only state that has passed legislation designed to revise its own educational goals. A deadline is set for mid-April.
"I believe our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the state and local level. By signing this legislation, Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high, and I commend members of the General Assembly for their support. As the task of writing our new academic standards continues, I am grateful to the more than 100 Indiana educators who have put thousands of hours into a comprehensive, transparent, and rigorous process of academic review and am confident that our state will produce Indiana standards that will prepare our students for success in college, careers, and life," the governor said.
The legislation requires Indiana's Board of Education to adopt "Indiana college and career readiness educational standards" in addition to allowing the board to authorize a new assessment program.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce leads establishment voices - such as possible presidential contender Jeb Bush - who hail the Common Core standards as a way to improve student performance and, over the long term, competitiveness of American workers.
But many archconservatives - tea party heroes Rand Paul and Ted Cruz among them - decry the system as a top-down takeover of local schools. The standards were developed and are being implemented by states, though Common Core opponents argue that President Barack Obama's administration has encouraged adoption of the standards by various parameters it set for states applying to get lucrative federal education grants.
To a lesser extent, Democrats must deal with some teachers - their unions hold strong influence within the party - who are upset about implementation details. But it's the internal GOP debate that's on display in statehouses, across 2014 campaigns and among 2016 presidential contenders.
The flap continues as students in 36 states and the District of Columbia begin this week taking field tests of new assessments based on the standards, although the real tests won't be given for another year.
Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky, has joined seven colleagues, including Texas' Cruz, to sponsor a measure that would bar federal financing of any Common Core component. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio isn't among the eight, but he had already come out against the standards. So has Rick Santorum, a 2012 presidential candidate mulling another run.
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