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Idaho coalition forms to support academic standards initiative

Idaho coalition forms to support academic standards initiative

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
July 24, 2013
[post_thumbnail]Tom Luna, superintendent of public instruction, is a supporter of the national Common Core standards.

As the fall 2013 deadline approaches for Idaho public schools to implement the Common Core academic standards, a new coalition has formed within the state to support the agenda while giving it a new name.

“Idahoans for Excellence in Education, a broad and diverse coalition, has formed to support the successful implementation of the Idaho Core Standards,” the group announced in a press release Tuesday. The release was emailed to IdahoReporter.com by Diana Lachiondo, vice president of development and special projects for a nonprofit organization, Idaho Business for Education.

Common Core, officially named the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is a set of academic standards that students in the various grade levels are expected to achieve. Officially sponsored by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the beginnings of the effort were led by state school superintendents who proposed standards that all of the 50 states could adopt.

Lachiando’s email message to IdahoReporter.com acknowledged that the two agendas—Idaho Core Standards and the Common Core State Standards—are the same. “This broad and diverse coalition has formed to defend the Idaho Core Standards (also known as Common Core) and ensure their successful implementation,” she said.

The effort to get all 50 states to adopt the standards officially began in 2009. In 2011 the education committees of both the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate, along with the Idaho Board of Education, agreed that Idaho would officially join the movement. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is a leading supporter of implementing Common Core standards in the state.

While more than 40 states have become a part of the Common Core Academic Standards effort, some states have equivocated on their decision and others have refused to participate. Both Indiana and Utah agreed in years prior to participate in the agenda, but this year Indiana officially chose to “pause” its implementation pending further investigation of it. Utah chose to remove itself from the nationwide academic testing consortiums associated with the agenda. Utah is still seeking to uphold the academic standards themselves.

In an apparent name change for the Common Core Academic Standards agenda, The Idahoans for Excellence In Education press release uses the term “Idaho Core Standards” 10 different times without any reference to Common Core.

IdahoReporter.com asked Cindy Wilson, a teacher at Capitol High School in Boise and a member of the coalition, why the name “Idaho Core Standards” was chosen by the coalition rather than “Common Core Standards,” and if the “Idaho Core Standards” are different from the “Common Core Standards” being adopted nationally.

“These standards are good for Idaho students, that’s why they are called Idaho Core Standards,” Wilson said. “Idaho adopted these standards. I have not looked at standards in other states so I cannot speak to those,” she added.

Similarly, Rod Gramer, who works with Lachiando at Idaho Business for Education, noted to IdahoReporter.com that “every informed person knows that in Idaho these standards are called ‘Idaho Core Standards.’” He declined to say if the two standards agendas were the same thing.

Groups who oppose the Common Core agenda, including the Idahoans for Local Education and the nationwide Pioneer Institute of Boston, often cite privacy and data security concerns with the effort, noting that the program involves sharing students’ academic and personal information outside of their home states.

“I think it’s too early to determine how this will be used at this point,” Wilson told IdahoReporter.com about security concerns. “But it’s something that we all need to look at very seriously. We all care about the safety and security of our children.”

The coalition also appears to have united former foes from previous political and public policy debates in Idaho.

For example, Skip Oppenheimer, a business executive who was an early supporter Luna’s Students Come First education reforms in 2011 (the reforms that appeared in the 2012 election as Propositions 1, 2 and 3) is supportive of the academic standards coalition. Penny Cyr of the Idaho Education Association and Mike Lanza, a Boise-based education activist, are also a part of the academic standards coalition, but both opposed the Students Come First reforms and helped defeat Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in the 2012 election.

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