INDIANAPOLIS – Economist Thomas Sowell once noted there are limits to the damage “dull or stupid people” can cause, but people with high IQs can create “a truly monumental disaster.”
It appears Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and that state’s education leaders are proving Sowell’s point.
In March, Pence agreed with state lawmakers to scrap the nationalized Common Core learning standards in favor of homegrown standards. It was declared a resounding victory for the growing anti-Common Core movement.
But reality set in on Monday when members of Indiana’s Education Roundtable – a group that includes Pence and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz – voted to adopt a replacement set of math and English learning standards that critics say looks an awful lot like Common Core.
While the state Board of Education will have the final say on the new standards (dubbed the “Indiana Academic Standards”), WISHTV.com reports Monday’s vote was the key vote in the process. That suggests the state board will rubber stamp the “roundtable’s” decision when it meets on April 28.
And that has Common Core opponents crying foul.
“Not a single one of our concerns about content was addressed,” said parent activist Heather Crossin.
According to Hillsdale College professor and Common Core critic Terrence Moore, Indiana’s revamped standards don’t make use of phonics, and they only require students to read excerpts of literature instead of entire stories.
Moore told a group 200 protestors assembled outside the Indiana Statehouse on Monday that the new standards are so similar to Common Core that if they were presented to him as a college paper, he’d give it an ‘F’ and write “plagiarism” across the top, reports IDSnews.com.
The math standards may be even worse.
Retired Stanford mathematics professor James Milgram, who served on Common Core’s validation committee, derided the new Indiana standards “as a purely amateur attempt at something.”
Milgram told IndyStar.com that the academic standards are sloppy, imprecise, disorganized, and “at points, just plain bizarre.”
Ze’ev Wurman, another anti-Common Core scholar, wrote in a recent op-ed that the proposed math standards even “contain plain mathematical errors.”
Pro-Common Core scholars are equally aghast at what Pence and company plan on pushing into Indiana classrooms beginning in the fall of 2015.
For instance, University of California at Berkeley professor Hung-Hsi Wu dismissed the Indiana Academic Standards as “an incoherent jumble,” reports IndyStar.com.
There’s a good reason for that.
Danielle Shockey, who serves as the state’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, told IndyStar.com that officials tasked with creating the new standards did so by borrowing from Indiana’s previous standards, Common Core and other national models.
State Board of Education member Andrea Neal told the news site she’ll ask her colleagues to simply reinstall the learning standards that were in place when the Common Core experiment was just a twinkle in Bill Gates’ eye.
Apart from Indiana’s K-12 students, Gov. Pence may be the biggest loser from all this. The governor tried to please both sides in the Common Core debate by backing only cosmetic changes to the standards, and he ended up pleasing no one.
He only managed to create a first-class mess for his state, the kind that only really intelligent people are capable of.