Mike Pence’s Relationship with Common Core? It’s Complicated.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

If your only knowledge of Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s stance on education policy comes from articles written in the past week, you can be forgiven for believing that the GOP vice presidential nominee is a staunch opponent of Common Core.

Education Week writes that Pence is “anti-Common Core” and that “Indiana, under Pence, was the very first state to ditch” the standards. Education World similarly reports that the Hoosier State “decided, under Pence’s authority, to scrap the standards and develop their own.” And The74Million.org echoes both, trumpeting Pence’s “anti-Common Core education legacy” and writing that “Pence signed a bill in 2014 making Indiana the first state to back out of the Common Core State Standards.”

There’s only one problem: Pence’s repeal of Common Core was really an illusion, designed to placate conservative activists while changing little to nothing.

National Review’s Stanley Kurtz helpfully documented the entire affair in 2014:

Pence did preside over Indiana’s withdrawal from Common Core, yet he quickly turned this triumph into a charade. Instead of returning to Indiana’s superb pre–Common Core standards, Pence stacked the replacement committees to ensure the return of Common Core. Indiana’s new standards are nothing but a slightly mangled and rebranded version of what they supposedly replace.

Common Core opponents are deeply disappointed by this outcome. The plucky Indiana mothers who ignited the national rebellion against Common Core are wondering why Governor Pence seems to have betrayed their trust.

So, in other words, Pence took credit for repealing Common Core in Indiana when in fact he merely replaced it with a rebranded version of the same standards — nay, standards that might be even worse:

Indiana native and Hillsdale College professor Terrence Moore, who reviewed the “new” English standards, concluded that if the proposal were turned into him as a college paper, he would give it an F and write “plagiarism” across the top. The “new” regime recycles old Common Core ideology, eschews phonics and fails to define “what constitutes good reading and good literature.”

Indiana native, Stanford University emeritus math professor and former member of the Common Core math standards validation committee James Milgram blasted the “new” Indiana math standards supported by Pence and the state school board. He begged the state to ask qualified mathematicians to revise the standards. He was ignored. Milgram revealed that “there are even more errors in the current document than were present in (an earlier draft). The standards for these courses are completely disorganized and, mathematically speaking, can only be described as bizarre.”

Indiana mom and vigilant education analyst Joy Pullmann added: “Pence’s decision is all the more foolish because Indiana has been renowned as one of the two or three states with the highest standards in the nation. … Now Indiana has even worse standards than the Common Core Hoosier mothers and fathers spent three exhausting years attempting to defenestrate.”

No wonder Indiana parents feel betrayed.

While Donald Trump’s consistent and vocal opposition to Common Core on the campaign trail has been a welcome development for parents and citizens concerned about federal overreach in education, his choice of Pence for VP does not help alleviate concerns that Trump’s tough talk is all for show. The truth is Trump’s running mate has already abandoned conservatives on more than one occasion, and those same conservatives can only hope Trump does not do the same.

Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.