INDIANAPOLIS – The deep divide over the Common Core State Standards for K-12 schools was on full display during a legislative hearing Monday that pit education experts against each other.
During more than eight hours of testimony in front of a legislative oversight committee charged with evaluating the impact of Common Core, supporters and critics of the new classroom standards for math and English traded opinions, studies and sometimes pointed barbs.
Critics painted Common Core as an attempt by outside forces to nationalize education and lower classroom standards in Indiana, while supporters of Common Core defended them as critical to boosting Hoosier students’ chances to get into and through college and compete on a global level.
At one point during the lengthy hearing, Jeffrey Zimba of the nonprofit Student Achievement Partners and one of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards, said Indiana’s old education standards were good but not good enough.
“The word ‘pizza’ occurs more times than the words, ‘number line,’” said Zimba, referring to the frequency in which food was used to explain fractions to Indiana schoolchildren.
Indiana is one of 45 states to adopt the use of the Common Core State Standards since they were rolled out in 2009. The standards, which set expectations by grade level for what every child should learn across the nation, were on track to be fully implemented in Indiana by the 2014-15 school year.
But that plan came to a halt earlier this year, when the Indiana General Assembly voted to “pause” Common Core to conduct hearings on its effect on Indiana schools. At least two more hearings will be conducted before the legislative oversight committee wraps up its work in November.
Monday’s hearing, which ran late into the evening, attracted a long line of proponents and opponents from in and out of Indiana. A vocal crowd of opponents, many wearing “Say NO to the Common Core” buttons, had to be admonished by the committee chairman, Republican state Sen. Dennis Kruse, to quiet their jeers, cheers and applause.