Branstad-and-Jindal_thumb.jpg
Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) talks to Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) during the Republican Party of Iowa State Convention.

Governor Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) signed executive order 83 addressing concerns regarding the Common Core State Standards.  His campaign on the stump has touted his action on the increasingly unpopular standards.  The Iowa State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards on July 29, 2010.  They had to adopt the standard verbatim, so Iowa’s math and English language arts standards are now Common Core.  Iowa can add additional standards, up to 15%.

The Iowa Core (originally adopted in 2005) is Common Core as far as math and English language arts standards are concerned.  Branstad’s executive order did not change that.

Branstad was widely quoted over the weekend on comments he made about Common Core during the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting.  The NGA, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), created the Common Core State Standards Initiative in order to develop the standards.  NGA and CCSSO hold the copyright to the Common Core.  The Common Core was not part of the agenda for the meeting.

The Blaze quoted Branstad:

The Common Core standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association that ended Sunday, relegated to hallway discussions and closed-door meetings among governors and their staffs. The standards and even the words, “Common Core,” have “become, in a sense, radioactive,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state voluntarily adopted the standards in 2010.

“We want Iowa Common Core standards that meet the needs of our kids,” Branstad said, echoing an intensifying sentiment from tea party leaders who describe the education plan as an attempt by the federal government to take over local education.

Because the Common Core were not approved by the Iowa Legislature, Branstad has the constitutional authority to repeal the Common Core by executive order should he so choose.  This would be similar to action taken by Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) when he ordered Louisiana to out of the Common Core and their assessment consortia the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC).  Branstad could roll back the math and ELA standards back to the ones approved by the Iowa Legislature and pull Iowa out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia.

Iowans for Local Control asked its supporters to encourage Branstad to do just that.  Caffeinated Thoughts was given a response email from Branstad’s special assistant for education Linda Fandel.

Thank you for contacting the Office of Gov. Terry E. Branstad regarding academic standards.

Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds are committed to Iowa setting its own high state academic standards, so they are the right fit for Iowa.  In October 2013, Governor Branstad signed Executive Order 83, which says that the state “not the federal government or any other organization, shall determine the content of Iowa’s state academic standards, which are known as the Iowa Core.”  The executive order requires the Iowa Department of Education to develop a regular review cycle for the Iowa Core, including public comment, to improve Iowa’s standards.

In addition, the executive order makes it clear that it is up to local school districts to choose the curriculum and learning materials they will use, consistent with Iowa’s academic standards.

Iowa’s state academic standards will help assure that all Iowa students receive a rigorous education, no matter where they live. The standards must be in place by the 2014-15 school year. This is an important step toward helping Iowa regain its ranking as a top performer in education.

Thank you again for your comments, and please feel free to contact me in the future.

Sincerely,

Linda Fandel, Special Assistant for Education

Office of Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad

The standards that Fandel refers to in the email, by law, are the original Iowa Core standards.  There is no legal requirement for the Iowa Department of Education to push ahead with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards if Branstad were to roll the standards back to the original standards.

Fandel also states, “the executive order requires the Iowa Department of Education to develop a regular review cycle for the Iowa Core.”  Branstad’s executive order stated, “The Iowa Department of Education shall develop a regular review cycle for the Iowa Core, including public comment, to determine the contents of and to continually improve state academic standards.”

Two states, South Carolina and Missouri, have passed review and replace legislation that includes a specific timeline for when the review and development of new standards are to be done.  Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered his state out of PARCC and a review of the standards with public input which happened relatively quickly after he issued his executive order.  Albeit the results were mixed as far as Common Core opponents were concerned, but action was taken by the Department.

Since the Branstad Administration is touting Branstad’s which was issued nine months ago (October 16, 2013) to the date Caffeinated Thoughts asked the Iowa Department of Education, “Has the department fleshed out what the review process for the Iowa Core/Common Core ordered by Gov. Branstad will look like?  Is there a timeline?  Who will be involved?  What will the public feedback process look like?”

Stacey Ballard, communications director for the Iowa Department of Education, responded to the inquiry, “Not yet. We’re approaching the process thoughtfully because our goal is to continue to improve the standards, and we look to Iowa education stakeholders to help us make the Iowa Core the right fit for Iowa.” (emphasis mine).

Nine months have passed and the Department has not even set up a plan to provide a review.  It only took a year to develop the Common Core.  It took the Department less time to send in its first Race to the Top application.  The Iowa State Board of Education took less time deliberating the adoption of the Common Core – less than two months (final draft was released on June 1, 2010 and the board adopted them on July 29, 2010).

So we are to believe that they can’t put together a plan in nine months?  This tells me one of two things – either the Iowa Department of Education is not taking the Governor’s executive order very seriously or the Branstad administration wants to campaign on this executive order without making it an actual priority.  Which is it?

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