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WSOI Hosted Public Hearing on Indiana School Standards

February 26, 2014

  02/27/14 Residents from all over Indiana were given an opportunity to voice their opinions or concerns over the State’s move to adopt their own standards for Indiana’s schools. Three sites in the state were chosen to receive public input, including Plymouth, Sellersburg, and Indianapolis. A four-hour hearing when people from all over the state were allowed to speak was held in the Weidner School of Inquiry on Wednesday. Additionally, stakeholders could post comments on the Indiana Department of Education website.

The purpose of the hearing was for the State Board of Education to hear public testimony on the draft of English/ Language Arts and Math standards that were posted on the Indiana Department of Education website on Feb. 19.

Teams of educators from all over the state collaborated to draft a set of standards in the areas of math and English that could replace those adopted through Common Core by Indiana and 44 other states.

  The Common Core initiative details what students in grades K-12 should know in English/ Language Arts and mathematics by the end of each school year to develop consistent education standards across the states and help ensure that students graduate from high school prepared to enter college programs or the workforce.

Indiana adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, but later put the adoption on hold after criticism of them emerged. Senate Bill 91 concerning the Indiana adoption was authored by Indiana State Senator Scott Scheiders R-Indianapolis.

  The draft penned by the committee will likely be the framework for what will replace Common Core standards in the state, if the State Board of Education approves by vote in April.

The draft is some 98 pages long and contains approximately 1,000 benchmarks to indicate mastery by students.

Indiana standards are expected to be confirmed by July 1 first to give teachers time to plan lessons for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

  Among those speaking at the Plymouth site was Plymouth Community School Corporation Assistant Superintendent, Dan Funston. Funston began his comments saying, “The standards contain content area material that is rigorous in nature and for this, I am grateful.” He added, “For example, there are several references to citing evidence from the text to support an argument and students are continually asked to develop clear narratives and to draw from the text.” He also spoke to standards included in the draft specifically for 6th grade language arts. “I would like to make a general comment followed up with specific examples. In Math and Language Arts areas, I believe that there are too many standards to teach, learn, and monitor,” said Funston. He went on to point out particular parts of his draft that he feels are redundant.  “This breadth of standards will also prevent us from personalizing learning for our students. The breadth of these standards will lead to more assessment and continue to make our children dislike school,” he said.

Funston ended his comments saying, “These obvious redundancies make me wonder how much vetting the draft standards have been through before now…it also makes me wonder if we will have an appropriate amount of time to make sure we do this right before implementing them in our classrooms.”

Identifying himself as a concerned father and grandfather, Brian Kindness said, “Are we really teaching kids to be prepeared for college or career readiness?” He continued, “Why have you put this on the fast track. There just hasn’t been enough time for people to study it.”

  Christopher Judie told the Board that they took their 10-year-old out of public school this year because they felt she was not being challenged enough. He also commented that when he looked at the standards, he felt it was mainly a “cut and paste” job from Common Core.

Parent Paula Thomas asked, “What does it take to make students successful. Standards or the people who teach them?” She added, “Many of the standards were inappropriate and you are setting kids up to fail with some of them.”

Janet Flores, assistant superintendent of Lakeridge School in Gary, supported Common Core standards saying, “We have been using Common Core for three years. Our scores have gone up across the board. It worked for us and we are living proof.”

Sam Wysong who teaches 7th grade math in Warsaw noted that 41 of the 52 standards are identical to Common Core. He was supportive of most of the standards, but said, “What do all students need to learn to be better citizens in the communities, the Hoosier state, the nation and the world?”

Several of those speaking indicated that the draft standards contained what they referred to as “cut and paste” portions from the Common Core standards; while other shared their beliefs that the makeup of the panel and had a bias toward Common Core.

The State Board of Education’s goal is to approve final standards in their April 9 meeting.

Carol Anders Correspondent & Kathy Bottorff


2 Responses to “ WSOI Hosted Public Hearing on Indiana School Standards ”

  1. Thor on February 27, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I have gone through the new standards…they are almost incomprehensible.

    Reading, writing, and arithmetic…how hard can this be.

    Try Strayer-Upton Arithmetics for Middle Grades, or any other level. Maybe the newer Saxon Math. I have a copy from 1928 that still teaches actual math. Physics and math have not changed.

    In the first half of the past century we used this basic level of instruction to educate people who: Invented powered flight, built the Hoover dam, designed railroad bridges that could loft thousands of tons of freight, developed nuclear energy, designed, built, and flew space craft to the moon.

    They did this with paper and pencil, augmented by slide rules for the harder math. If we want a standard that will have our young “college and career” ready maybe we should start with the basics. Something like: “At the end of the sixth grade the student should be proficient in the Strayer-Upton Arithmetics Middle Grades”. It doesn’t need to be any more complex than that.

    Today we send children to school with more computing power than existed in the world in the 60′s to do what? Play games, and learn how to use a glorified calculator. So what, big deal…maybe these kids will be good enough to one day build an app.

    The Indiana Constitution says in Article 8: Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.

    You will note the first of the “suitable means” is moral. Where in these standards do (or will) they address morality? Most of what I see being addressed by the current curriculum is a complete absence of any morality, in fact what passes for recommended reading in Common Core is more easily described as immoral. Adapting Common Core standards to make a buck off the Department of Education is selling our children down the road for political expediency. It would be better if those tax dollars had stayed here in Indiana where we could decide what’s best for our children.

    The Indiana Constitution calls the SBOE to create a higher level of learning that will develop well rounded citizens capable of participating in our Representative Republic at a level that is valuable. It does not call for them to create “college and career” ready subjects that will be useful to the federal government.

    If we want to do what is right by our children, our future, we will return to basics. I believe you will find those basics exceed the federal expectations in practice. By a moon shot or more.

  2. Andrew on February 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

    This is a very interesting discussion.

    I have been out of school now for nearly 30 years. We were a different breed then. We didn’t have the electronic gadgets that today are so common, nor did we seem to fixated on so much stimulation to become satisfied with life in general. In other words we had the basics and generally did them well.

    I would make the argument that what is generally missing in society today is the ability to cognitively process one’s environment and be able to effectively express oneself. In my evaluation this is really the “common core” of one’s ability to function in society.

    There has to be a consideration on the practical and the pragmatic, this is something that branches out of an effective ability to evaluate each and every situation on an objective level. I think a lot of the dysfunction in society today comes from the failure to be able to do this.

    Thus from my perspective, the highest priority should be set to teach students how to develop a strong sense of this analysis method and the rest would follow more or less naturally. In other words teach them how to think not what to think.

    My $0.02 worth …