Celebrations by parents, teachers, and taxpayers across the political spectrum over the purported death of Common Core in Indiana may have been premature. When legions of outraged Hoosiers forced lawmakers to pass legislation dropping the Obama administration-pushed nationalization of K-12 education, which Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed on Monday, they thought that would be the end of the deeply controversial standards. However, now that drafts of Indiana’s “new” standards have emerged, it is clear that they were largely copied and pasted from the scandal-plagued Common Core.
Officials still celebrated the bill, perhaps hoping nobody would notice or care. “I believe our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the state and local level,” Gov. Pence claimed in a statement this week. “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.”
Despite the new law supposedly aimed at stopping Common Core in Indiana, though, suspicion and outrage is still building as Hoosiers learn about the supposedly “new and improved” standards. According to education expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who refused to sign off on the national standards while serving on the Common Core Validation Committee and was hired by Indiana to review the state’s “new” proposed standards, what is happening is tantamount to “grand deception.”
The retired University of Arkansas professor explained that the draft standards proposed as a replacement for Common Core in Indiana, in fact, are almost the same as the national scheme that sparked the public uproar in the first place. Incredibly, internal government documents actually reveal that as much as 90 percent of the “new” standards were taken from Common Core, meaning the “new” is essentially a repackaged version of the old.
Dr. Stotsky recently released an Indiana Department of Education report that blew the lid off what is happening. According to the document, cited in multiple news reports, more than 70 percent of the “new” Indiana standards for grades six through 12 were taken directly from Common Core. Another 20 percent of the standards were simply edited versions of Common Core. About half of the new standards from kindergarten through fifth grade were also lifted from the national scheme.
“It makes a fool of the governor,” Dr. Stotsky, one of the premier national experts on Common Core, was quoted as saying by Fox News about Indiana’s allegedly “new” standards. “The governor is being embarrassed by his own Department of Education if the final version is too close to Common Core.” Based on the legislation rejecting Common Core, the Indiana Board of Education is set to vote on the proposed “new” standards in late April. It was not immediately clear whether they would be approved, but opposition is building as the public slowly realizes it has been taken for a ride.
Stotsky, the former 21st-century chair in teacher quality at the University of Arkansas’s Department of Education Reform, also told The New American last year that Common Core standards should be scrapped entirely. Among other concerns, she said the national standards reduced opportunities for the development of critical thinking in students, scaled back literary study, and were “written hastily by people who didn’t care how poorly written they were.” The math subject-matter expert on the Common Core Validation Committee also refused to sign off on that component, citing, among other concerns, incorrect math.
Veteran Indiana educator Mary Black, who has been teaching for 40 years, also lambasted the attempted deception taking place in her state. “The truth about Common Core in Indiana is that we still have Common Core; it is just renamed,” explained Black, who currently serves as Curriculum Director for FreedomProject Education, an online K-12 school dedicated to classical education and Judeo-Christian values. “The commission established to write the new Indiana standards ‘by Hoosiers and for Hoosiers,’ as Gov. Pence put it, was filled by publicly known proponents of Common Core.”
One member of the commission, Black told The New American, was a representative of WestEd, a controversial organization connected to the federally funded Common Core testing regimes that also provides schools with a widely criticized data-collection scheme known as “Positive Behavioral Intervention System” (PBIS). In mid-April, meanwhile, the draft Indiana standards will go to an education “Round Table” which is expected to include representatives of the federally funded National Governors Association and billionaire Common Core financier Bill Gates — both of which played a key role, along with the Obama administration, in foisting the controversial standards on America.
“We have renamed Common Core standards, but are still bound to implement them by the federal government's waiver to [the unconstitutional federal education plot known as] No Child Left Behind, and have funding for the development of a state-wide data system for our schools,” Black added, referring to the massive, federally funded information-collection regime targeting students. “Indiana has not dropped out of Common Core. Opponents of Common Core will have a difficult time convincing people that we have to get rid of it because so many have now been tricked into believing it is gone.”
The education expert also offered some background on how it happened. The original legislation to stop Common Core in Indiana, she said, in addition to establishing a commission to create new standards, would have repealed the Obama administration’s lawless waiver from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind mandate. As the bill worked its way through the legislature, however, the measure to repeal the NCLB waiver was dropped, causing the original author of the bill, State Senator Scott Schneider, to withdraw his support. He voted against the final version, too.
For the governor, it may be about slick politics. “Governor Pence, a neocon, is using this so-called victory over Common Core to deceive Hoosiers into thinking he took a stand against the standards for political gains,” Black continued, adding that despite the rhetoric, the reality on the ground suggests the governor is just playing games with the public for his own purposes. “His ambitions to become president are well-known.”
In 2010, Indiana became one of the first state governments in the nation to accept Obama administration bribes in exchange for foisting the controversial national standards on schools. It was done very quietly, and as in most of the 45 states that eventually capitulated to Washington, D.C., almost nobody noticed at the time. Once parents and teachers began catching on, though, Indiana, along with the rest of America, was in open revolt against the usurpation of education by unaccountable establishment forces.
The pressure to withdraw from the Big Business- and Obama-backed scheme eventually boiled over in Indiana, contributing to the fact that it became the first state to adopt Common Core and then “officially” withdraw. The process began last year, when lawmakers passed legislation to “pause” the implementation of the controversial education takeover. It all culminated with a bill this year that required State Board of Education officials to develop new benchmark standards for Indiana — standards that, again, were apparently copied and pasted from Common Core for the most part.
In signing the bill to formally kill the standards, Gov. Pence suggested other states would follow Indiana’s lead. “I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people,” the governor was quoted as saying.
Indeed, Pence may be correct, although not in the way he presumably meant it. Across America, facing a tsunami of trans-partisan opposition, embattled state officials are desperately seeking to placate the outraged masses but, at the same time, keep the Obama administration bribes flowing and the pro-Common Core establishment happy. To that end, governors and policymakers are increasingly turning to deception rather than real action — in many cases simply slapping a new name on Common Core in an effort to deceive the public.
However, the American people may not be as gullible as the establishment believes, as evidenced by mounting outrage over Indiana’s half-baked attempt to re-package the deeply controversial and poor-quality national standards under a new name. With the nationwide uproar against Common Core gathering momentum even in the face of a new Big Business propaganda blitz, officials in Indiana still have time to take real action against Common Core. In other states, meanwhile, as the battle between the public and the establishment intensifies, it will become increasingly difficult for officials to dupe the citizenry.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at