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The week ahead
Common Core review: 1 p.m. today, Senate chambers, Indiana Statehouse

Common Core foes have lawmakers’ ears

Indiana lawmakers will hear testimony today on the state’s adoption of national school standards. The Common Core State Standards are under fire from critics on both the left and right, with additional ammunition earned by Tony Bennett’s fall from grace.

Bennett, the former Indiana state schools chief whose quest to whitewash the academic performance of a campaign donor’s charter school was revealed in an Associated Press story last week, is a leader in the Common Core movement and in the push for the Partnership for Assessment for Colleges and Careers.

PARCC is one of the Common Core-aligned test options, but it has come under fire for its cost and the amount of time it takes from instruction. Look for critics to point to Bennett’s actions involving the A-F grading formula as another reason to withdraw from the standards.

Gov. Mike Pence, who has taken steps to pull Indiana out of the PARCC commitment the previous administration made, came close to rejecting Common Core directly in remarks he made in a town hall meeting in Fort Wayne last week.

“I think our testing, our assessments, our curriculum should be written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers,” the governor said.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, an author of the Senate bill blocking implementation of the standards, was pleased by Pence’s remarks.

“I like that,” Kruse said last week. “I don’t like this nationalization of school standards.”

Monday’s hearing will include testimony from the Indiana Department of Education, where state Superintendent Glenda Ritz has been critical of the PARCC assessment, and from both supporters and opponents of the Common Core, each limited to 20 minutes of testimony. Remarks by members of the public are limited to 10 minutes.

Opponents of the standards have top-level experts prepared to testify: Sandra Stotsky, an education professor from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, was a member of the panel that created the highly regarded English standards for Massachusetts. She is harshly critical of the Common Core’s treatment of literary topics. James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, charges that the standards set low expectations for students.

Today’s meeting will be broadcast over the Internet at in/gov/legislative/2441.htm. Select the video stream for the Senate chambers.

8888 uprising

Thursday is the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma. The event broke out on Aug. 8, 1988.

Fort Wayne is home to thousands of Burmese who have fled the country’s military rule. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a prisoner of her nation’s ruling military, received the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected last year to a seat in the country’s parliament.

The local Burmese community is among the largest in the United States. The International 88 Generation Conference marking the anniversary drew about 200 Burmese activists from around the world to IPFW last month.

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