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Curriculum standards debate intensifies

Indiana’s battle over the Common Core is intensifying, with the education advocacy group Stand for Children launching a campaign claiming too many Indiana students enter college unprepared, leaving the state near the bottom of the nation in workforce preparation.

The campaign is a response to the standoff in the General Assembly, where some of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans are pushing to halt implementation of the Common Core standards.

On the other side are Republicans most closely aligned with the dozens of education measures approved over the past four years, including Rep. Robert Behning, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Rep. Todd Huston, who served as chief of staff under former state schools chief Tony Bennett.

Indiana’s Common Core debate plays out against a national backdrop. Students in New York began this week taking standardized tests aligned with the Common Core, but critics charge that the assessments are flawed.

“Common Core testing is a plane being built in the air – a plane in which the passengers are children,” writes Carol Burris, the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator and former Common Core supporter.

“There is no empirical evidence that shows that performance on these tests is predictive of how the child will do in college or career.”

Stand for Children, coincidentally, has faced its own share of controversy. Founder Jonah Edelman spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2011, boasting of how the education advocacy group invested more than $600,000 in nine Illinois state legislative races, exploiting a rift between the Democratic House speaker and the Illinois Federation of Teachers to push through collective bargaining restrictions.

“The individual candidates were essentially a vehicle to execute a political objective, which was to tilt toward (House Speaker Michael) Madigan,” Edelman said. He later apologized for the remarks.