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Learning Curve

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A Common Core problem

State Superintendent Tony Bennett was in Fort Wayne Monday to speak with two local Rotary groups. His remarks were a likely preview of his reelection stump speech – kind words about Fort Wayne Community Schools, praise for Indiana educators (while acknowledging that teachers don't like him) and much boasting of Indiana's school progress. All of it, apparently, has occurred since he took office in 2009.

Bennett did not offer any new information, other than to hint that "ISTEP may change in 2014," in compliance with the new common core standards.

Conservatives, by the way, are adamantly opposed to the new national standards. Bennett will likely face some grief from the kind of people who view the Girls Scouts as a "radicalized organization," but opposition is building from more moderate voices. A Brookings Institution study questions the value of national standards.

With GOP candidate Rick Santorum questioning even a state role in public education, the topic of curriculum and federalism is going to get very interesting – and Indiana's state superintendent is a central player in the debate that is mostly riling members of his own party.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at