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Indiana House votes to void Common Core

– The Indiana House voted 67-26 Thursday to void the Common Core academic standards for the state’s schoolchildren.

Senate Bill 91 requires the State Board of Education to write new educational standards using a process already underway. The new standards have been unveiled and are in the middle of a comment period.

They would go into effect July 1 at the latest.

But the legislation does not prohibit the state panel from adopting new standards that have large portions of Common Core in them.

They would be in place for the 2014-15 school year. But Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, pointed out students will take an accountability test that year based on the voided standards.

“Does that make common sense to anyone in this body?” he asked, saying there should be a pilot testing period for new standards.

Indiana’s State Board of Education adopted Common Core in 2010 with the backing of former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. Only a few grades have started using them because of a long-term phase-in.

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

But opponents feel the federal government has gotten too involved with them and support “sovereign” standards written in Indiana.

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, said states have signed onto the standards to get a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind consequences. And she said it was time to bring the process back to Indiana.

She and others said they have faith in the Department of Education to implement the new process.

The bill was changed slightly in the House, so the Senate still has to accept those modifications. Only Democrats opposed the bill.

Teen tanning bill

The Indiana House voted 69-23 Thursday to ban the use of commercial tanning beds for people younger than 16.

Due to slight changes in the bill, it must return to the Senate for a final vote before becoming law.

Under current law, those younger than 18 can tan with parental permission. Senate Bill 50 would bar ultraviolet tanning for anyone younger than 16. Teens who are 16 and 17 could still tan with parental permission.

The measure also requires the Indiana State Department of Health to adopt standards concerning the use of tanning devices in Indiana.

Lawmakers pushing the ban have pointed to how harmful the radiation from the tanning beds is and that the risk of skin cancer is higher for young adults who tan. Opponents decried legislators making decisions for parents.

Area House members who supported the bill were Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne; Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City; Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse; Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne; Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington; Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn; and Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola.

Those against were Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion; and Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw.

Preschool study

The Indiana Senate voted 44-4 Thursday to study whether Indiana should implement a prekindergarten program.

All area senators supported the measure.

House Bill 1004 likely now goes to a conference committee for final negotiations. Gov. Mike Pence and House Republican leadership continue to seek a five-county pilot program.

“We recognize there is a need here. The state has a vested interest in these children,” said Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon. “Forty-one states spend money on pre-K. Hopefully, we will be the 42nd in the future, but we want to make sure we do it in the right way.”

He said any state program would target poor children who often arrive at kindergarten behind their peers.