INDIANAPOLIS | Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction, tried bringing a swift end to the hullaballo over Indiana's use of Common Core educational standards Monday by pointing out the state controls its standards and they can always be changed.
"It's in state statute that we determine our standards," Ritz told a special legislative committee reviewing Common Core. "We can use Common Core standards if you wish. That's what was adopted."
In 2010, the Republican-appointed State Board of Education made Common Core Indiana's educational standards on the recommendation of former State Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican.
The Common Core standards were developed on a multistate basis to set a shared understanding of what students should know and be able to demonstrate at each grade level with an eye toward college- or career-readiness and being able to compete nationally and globally.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Mike Pence decided Indiana should "pause" its implementation of Common Core, in part because Democratic President Barack Obama has endorsed the state-level program.
As a result, teachers across Indiana are continuing to use school-chosen curricula based on Common Core standards, but must also continue teaching to the old state indicators tested by the ISTEP+ exam.
Ritz said she supports the review, because it will give Indiana another chance to go line by line through the state's standards and decide what to keep, what to toss and what to add.
"It's not a question for me as to whether we do Common Core or do not do Common Core," Ritz said. "At the end of that process, we should have the standards that Indiana wants."
State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, agreed. She surveyed a Senate chamber packed with Common Core opponents and said she didn't understand what they were so upset about.
"You come out with a set of standards in which you have taken the best of Common Core and the best of Indiana and put them together and then you proceed," Rogers said. "I think it's just a waste of time and energy to bash Common Core."
Nevertheless, Common Core opponents were happy to bash the standards well into Monday evening.
At times veering into conspiracy theory, various individuals passionately testified the standards are simultaneously too tough, too easy, too foreign, too indifferent to British literature, designed to promote liberalism and lacking respect for Mark Twain's novel, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," among other complaints.