Did Gov. Mike Pence change course on Common Core curriculum, with the emphatic support of his super majority Republicans in the General Assembly, to put education standards back in the hands of Hoosiers? Or did he make a political decision that will play well with some factions of the Republican Party in Indiana and beyond to advance his career, potentially at a cost of $125 million to local school districts?
Ultimately, the verdict on this will be determined by Indiana voters in 2016, or perhaps by Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in a presidential race.
Gov. Pence reversed course forged by former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Supt. Tony Bennett in 2013, signing a bill that “paused” implementation of Common Core standards. It came less than six months after Bennett was upset for re-election by Democrat Glenda Ritz, that gave political momentum to the anti-Common Core movement.
Indiana was developing new standards in 2009, and then saw Daniels and Bennett ram through the Common Core standards in ‘10. It was that second effort that set off a Tea Party and right revolt, with citizens complaining they didn’t have a seat at the table. Ritz was able to gain their support in her 2012 campaign by promising their inclusion.
While costs for the 2014 Common Core switch could be as much as $125 million, a change in standards in ‘09 and ‘10 could make the total price tag for taxpayers much higher.
Political support for Common Core began eroding after President Obama, in his 2012 State of the Union address, endorsed the standards. “For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning, the first time that’s happened in a generation,” Obama said.