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Letter to the editor: You can rebrand it, but it's still Common Core

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 12:01 am

In 2010, Indiana became one of the first states to adopt Common Core, a nationwide curriculum that spread across the country. The seemingly backroom deals and lack of local input that resulted in the multimillion-dollar catastrophe led to growing discontent among parents, teachers and administrators across the state.

In 2013 the Indiana legislature responded by passing a bill that paused the implementation of Common Core, which was immediately signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence in March, making Indiana the first state in the country to officially stop using the standards.

On April 28, the Indiana State Board of Education voted to adopt Indiana College and Career Ready Standards. The education roundtable that created these “new” standards was headed by Gov. Pence, now claiming he successfully came through on his promise to remove Common Core and replace it with locally based standards. In fact, the ICCRS is essentially a copy-and-paste of Common Core standards. Gov. Pence has done a complete disservice to the people of Indiana by claiming that the regurgitated standards are anything more than a rebranding of Common Core.

Ironically exactly the plan laid out by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He has been the point man of the national “rebrand it” strategy. Huckabee is on record urging states to “rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.” This strategy has led to Arizona Gov. Brewer to use an executive order to erase the name “Common Core” from standards in public schools; Iowa left Common Core standards entirely intact but rebranded it as “The Iowa Core,” while Florida struck the words “Common Core” from official documents in exchange for “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.” These standards so closely resemble Common Core that the original creators waived copyright claims for Indiana in order to allow lawmakers to copy and paste “excerpts or portions” of Common Core standards to be used within Indiana.

The Legislative Services Agency has estimated that the conversion to the new “state-created standards” will cost Hoosiers $42.5 million over the next two years and estimate a recurring annual cost of $26 million for every year thereafter. This monetary explosion has provided Hoosiers with standards so homogenous with Common Core that Michael Cohen, president of Achieve Inc. and developer of Common Core, stated that Indiana could reasonably remain within the official Common Core testing because the two sets of standards are the same. That cost and creation of new standards has been “a waste of time for the state.”

Gov. Pence is now attempting to gain backing for a statewide student database, a goal that Common Core advocates had dreamed of implementing on a nationwide scale. We are now talking about data mining our children from the age of 5, nothing alarming here. Huckabee outlined a national strategy for states to withstand the backlash Common Core created while continuing to implement the standards, and governors across the country responded while we have played ignorant.

Changing the title and running a public relations campaign is not a promise kept.

Alexander Satterthwaite