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Opening Arguments

Simple Common Core math

Nothing more boring than a "govornor appoints new members to board" story. Except when it isn't:

At first blush, it appears that through his newly appointed members to the state board of education, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has decided to keep the Common Core State Standards in the Hoosier State.

How so? The Associated Press notes that among the governor's six new appointees to the 11-member state board made on June 13, Pence, a Republican. has decided to keep two of the current board members. That seems very important, because the board previously voted unanimously to adopt the standards back in 2010, and since then, the board has maintained its steadfast support for the common core even as political opposition has grown in the state.

The math, then, becomes simple. A total of six members on the new, 11-member board will have served on the same board that unanimously adopted the standards three years ago. In theory, that gives common core the majority of votes it needs to keep the standards. The board includes Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, who has questioned the standards and is a voting member, but if six pro-common-core votes remain on the board, it doesn't ultimately matter, as Scott Elliott of the Indianapolis Star pointed out today.

The Associated Press leads its story with the fact that one of Pence's appointees, Andrea Neal, has been an outspoken critic of the standards. But unless Neal and others can convince at least one, if not more, board members from the 2010 cadre that they should switch sides and oppose common core, her opposition may not mean much. Another new selection, Brad Oliver, seems like he's on the fence.

We've been runiing Neal's Indiana Policy Review columns for years now, and I must say I find her a persuasive argumentarian. But if this analysis is true, Pence has stacked the deck against her and it will be an uphill struggle. But there are going to be hearings on whether or not to keep Common Core, and Hoosiers will at least have a chance to become better informed on them.  Knowledge of the standards and their potential impact isn't exactly high.