Common Core "Pause," Voucher Expansion Pass on Final Day
Both sides claim victory in Common Core compromise
Both sides are claiming victory in the debate over the Common Core curriculum standards.
Legislators gave final approval to a bill requiring the State Board of Education to halt implementation of Common Core, and adopt new standards after a fresh round of hearings. Opponents charge the federal government has hijacked what began as a multistate compact to agree on curriculum standards, leaving Indiana at risk of losing control of its own standards.
Education reform groups and the Indiana Chamber had lobbied to preserve Common Core. But the Chamber is applauding the compromise struck on the next-to-last day of the session. It notes the portions of Common Core already implemented will remain in effect, while the law calls on the state board to use Common Core as a "base model" for new standards due by next summer.
Legislators also approved an expansion of the private school voucher program, increasing the maximum voucher from $4,500 to $4,800 and making more students eligible. The new standard makes students in any school rated as "failing" on the state's accountability measures eligible for vouchers, regardless of income.
Senator Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) says the expansion ensures students won't be trapped in schools where they can't learn. But Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) predicts the move will backfire. He says struggling school districts will no longer have an incentive to get better, because students who leave for private schools won't come back.
The new state budget increases the money set aside for vouchers from $5 million to $7.5 million.