Indiana is likely to push the pause button on implementing Common Core State Standards. The reasons for the pause sound innocuous—legislators want to “study” them before they keep implementing them—but the danger to Common Core and Indiana’s students is very, very real. Common Core opponents see the pause as a chance to reject the standards outright, while teachers and schools would be left to sort out the resulting mess.
For at least some Common Core critics in Indiana, the pause buys time for a show trial. During the one-year interruption, the state would hold commissions, conduct studies and release reports on standards that were already adopted by the Indiana legislature more than two years ago. This would give the most virulent opponents of Common Core (including a handful of outright conspiracy theorists) an opportunity to spread the myths that Common Core is a takeover of the state’s schools by feds bent on a liberal agenda. (Never mind that Common Core was a state-led effort championed by Republicans like former Indiana state superintendent Tony Bennett and former Governor Mitch Daniels.) At the end of the review period, the Indiana State Board of Education would have to re-adopt the standards. So far, the State Board has been steadfast in its support of Common Core, but that could change after Indiana’s current governor, Mike Pence, appoints six new Board members this summer.
In the meantime, schools, teachers and students would be left in limbo. Implementation of Common Core began two years ago, so any pause would be very disruptive. Should educators simply stop all the work they’ve been doing to understand the new standards and upgrade their practices? Should they put the brakes on all that staff development? Veteran teachers have a right to feel jaded. It is precisely this kind of waffling that has doomed so many promising reforms in the past, and they have had to duck to avoid the fallout.
Democrats and Republicans alike have widely praised Common Core State Standards. The business community in Indiana has embraced them for their rigor and relevance to the demands of a global economy. Indiana citizens support them as well. Why stop a good thing in its tracks?