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EDITORIAL

Thanks for the guidance on Common Core

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 12:01 am

Committee issues a report that makes no recommendation.

Indiana lawmakers seem to have found an interesting way to deal with the controversy over Common Core standards: study the issue until it goes away.

The state decided in 2010 to adopt the standards – academic guidelines for schools created by an association of state governors that 44 states have agreed to follow. But Common Core has come under attack lately from both liberals and conservatives, so the General Assembly voted earlier this year to “pause” further implementation beyond the second grade. A bipartisan 12-member committee was appointed to study the issue over the summer and issue a recommendation.

On Tuesday, the panel issued its report, which neither recommended going ahead with Common Core nor reverting to Indiana’s old standards. Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said there weren’t seven votes to support any recommendation.

Well, thanks so much for the guidance.

The committee’s work was supposed to lead up to a statewide discussion on the issue, but without a recommendation around which to build a debate, the conversations are apt to be unfocused, if they happen at all. And a recommendation was supposed to go to the State Board of Education to guide it in deciding what the state’s standards will be. Will the board be left on its own?

Statewide discussion is needed on several points raised by critics. Some liberals say Common Core takes the state deeper into standardized-testing obsession, and that deserves a look; educators can’t be so worried about testing that they forget to actually teach. Some conservatives claim that the standards are inferior to the standards the state already had, and that should be studied, too. Too-low standards would result in a dumbed-down curriculum over time.

Especially worthy of attention is whether the state should go its own way or join the growing movement toward a national curriculum. Though adopted by the states, Common Core has been all but taken over by the federal government, and it will use its ability to give or withhold funds to push schools in the direction it favors.

That movement has gone too far to be stopped easily, which makes talking about it even more important. Education in this country has traditionally been under local control because it was always understood that local educators, parents and taxpayers were best equipped to know local needs and how schools should respond to them. A one-size-fits-all approach, which is all the federal government knows, will cheat our children and our future.