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Opening Arguments

The rebrand hustle

Michelle Malkin, a longtime opponent of Common Core, isn't buying the whole "we scrapped Common Core and did our own better version" scenario. In fact, she calls ig "Big Government GOP's Common Core rebrand hustle."

Reality check: Last week, Pence faced the anger of hundreds of Indiana parents, educators and activists at a public Indiana Business Roundtable meeting to discuss his phony charade. The protesters openly booed Pence's derision of critics as out-of-staters and elitists. They roared their disapproval when he claimed that his "new" standards were superior and homegrown.

Indiana mom Heather Crossin, one of the earliest and strongest grassroots voices against the federalized standards/textbook/testing racket, exposed the truth: "The proposed standards are simply a cloned version of the Common Core rebranded."

Indiana mom Erin Tuttle, also a leading Hoosier activist for true academic excellence, reported that state officials had failed to prove that their "new" scheme included "internationally and nationally benchmarked" standards as required by state law.

Indiana native and Hillsdale College professor Terrence Moore, who reviewed the "new" English standards, concluded that if the proposal were turned into him as a college paper, he would give it an F and write "plagiarism" across the top. The "new" regime recycles old Common Core ideology, eschews phonics and fails to define "what constitutes good reading and good literature."

Indiana native, Stanford University emeritus math professor and former member of the Common Core math standards validation committee James Milgram blasted the "new" Indiana math standards supported by Pence and the state school board. He begged the state to ask qualified mathematicians to revise the standards. He was ignored. Milgram revealed that "there are even more errors in the current document than were present in (an earlier draft). The standards for these courses are completely disorganized and, mathematically speaking, can only be described as bizarre."

Indiana mom and vigilant education analyst Joy Pullmann added: "Pence's decision is all the more foolish because Indiana has been renowned as one of the two or three states with the highest standards in the nation. ... Now Indiana has even worse standards than the Common Core Hoosier mothers and fathers spent three exhausting years attempting to defenestrate."

She's pretty tough on Gov. Pence, who is generally thought of as a conservative's conservative. This article pretty much tags as part of  the "go along with the establishment" crowd. I suspect she may have hit on something here: If Pence were looking for the quickest way to alienate the base other than embracing "comprehsenive immigration reform," he probably couldn't have done any better.

Bottom line:

While disingenuous Republican governors tout their "withdrawals" from Common Core, it's more of the same old, same old: Diluted standards, tied to testing/textbook/technology cash cows, manufactured a top-down cadre of big-government D.C. education lobbyists and big-business interests, in violation of local control and state sovereignty.

UPDATE: Ryan Streeter, senior policy director for Go. Pence, says the critics are wrong -- Indiana's new standards are better than the old standards and better than Common Core, too:

. . . calling for a return to Indiana’s previous standards sometimes equates to restoring Common Core, since Indiana’s previous standards were highly regarded and used in the design of Common Core. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 Indiana high-school graduates annually needed remediation in college while Indiana’s earlier standards were in place.

This all points to the need for better standards — not rebranding, not going back to the old standards.

We believe that Indiana’s new standards are better than what we had in the past. If in the future we discover that particular standards are not serving our children well, we will improve them. Indiana has now moved beyond the debate over Common Core to focusing on how well the new standards are preparing Indiana schoolchildren for the careers to which they aspire.

I think the part about keeping track of standards and improving them as needed is important. I said as much in an editorial for today's paper:


Hoosiers do not have to “just be quiet” and let the issue be settled for all time, and they certainly should not. Parents especially need to monitor the standards and the standards’ use and effects on their children. When something is discovered that isn’t right, they should speak out loudly and clearly to make the establishment aware of the problem.