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Amended bills on education advance

Core standards, regional-campus issue to Senate

– The Senate Education Committee moved greatly amended bills on IPFW and national education standards Wednesday.

Both now head to the full chamber for a vote.

Senate Bill 98 addressed IPFW, which is among the largest public universities in the state with an enrollment this year of about 14,000 students.

Purdue University currently provides administrative oversight of the regional IPFW campus with students able to get degrees from both Indiana and Purdue depending on the program.

Lawmakers frustrated with relations between the regional campus and Purdue held a summer study committee on the issue. Some provisions from that study were recommendations in this bill.

But the committee chose instead to require a working group made up of legislators and staff from the Commission for Higher Education to study the overall topic of regional-campus governance and analyze IPFW specifically for improvements.

A report must be submitted to the General Assembly by Nov. 30.

The measure passed unanimously.

The panel also changed Senate Bill 193, which would have withdrawn Indiana from using new Common Core standards as passed by the State Board of Education.

So far, only Indiana’s kindergarten and first grades are using the math and language arts standards under a long-term phase-in plan.

Common Core was created by the nation’s governors as a way to accurately gauge national education progress.

But some Hoosiers fear the new standards are weaker than those Indiana had in place previously. And others fear the standards will be used to federalize education. That’s because President Obama has used Common Core as part of a major financial rewards program called Race to the Top.

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, authored the bill for the second straight year. It died in committee last year.

The education panel amended the bill to temporarily hold the standards while requiring the state board to have a public hearing in all nine congressional districts and to further investigate the entire system before moving forward.

It does allow second-grade standards to be put in place in the meantime.

The legislation also requires the Indiana Office of Management and Budget to perform a fiscal analysis of the projected cost to the state and school corporations of the first five years of implementation of the Common Core standards.

There was no discussion on the bill, and it passed 7-4 along party lines with Democrats in opposition.

“I remain far from convinced that this is the right move to make,” said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury. “I am concerned we are jerking kids around.”

He “hesitantly” supported the legislation for now.

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