House Bill 597 was introduced over the summer by Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta).
A previous bill to repeal the standards – House Bill 237, sponsored by Thompson – never cleared the House Education Committee. The new bill has been handed over to the House Rules Committee, which sponsors hopes will give it a better chance at coming before the full House.
Ohio signed onto a 45 state consortium to develop and implement the Common Core in 2010. But in the ensuing years opposition to the standards grew, finally boiling over in five participating states just this year. Indiana pulled out in March, followed by Oklahoma and South Carolina in late spring. In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal has ordered the Common Core to be dropped, but the order is being challenged in court. And North Carolina became the latest to pull out in July.
Ohio’s renewed battle over the Common Core comes at the beginning of the first year that the new benchmarks are to be fully implemented and counted in Ohio’s school report cards.
Opponents of the standards argue that they take away local control. They also question the teaching techniques, and where and how it Common Core was created.
Several opponents visited the Statehouse to show their support for a repeal, including Richard Ringo of Cincinnati.
“Most important thing is not just that it dumbs down the standards for our children,” Ringo says, “but it infringes on our freedom the less control from the federal government the best.”
Republican Representative Huffman of Lima chairs the Rules Committee. During Monday’s hearing, he said it’s not about whether or not the standards will be effective-but rather how they were created.
“I’m submitting to this committee, and ultimately to the General Assembly, this is a bad way to make public policy. Ceding important decisions to national organizations whatever the influence of the federal government may be is a bad way to make policy,” Huffman said.
Intervention from the federal government was the main sticking point from opponents of the standards. But there seems to be disagreement among them on whether they are too harsh or not strong enough.
Common Core has been a major topic of debate around the country-especially among conservative media personalities and blogs.
But the standards have plenty of supporters, including school administrators and teachers.
Stephen Thompson is superintendent for Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools. He says the problem is that opponents don’t have all the facts.
“There was this understanding that you couldn’t do different things,” Thompson says. “You couldn’t do STEM education, you can’t do problem-based solutions, you couldn’t do inquiry learning if you have the Common Core. Well, that’s simply not true it’s just based on misinformation.”
Robert Hill, superintendent of Firelands Local Schools in Lorain County, says a great deal of research went into crafting them.
“Ohio’s new learning standards provide a path for students to drill much deeper into each learning to apply more knowledge and skill in the subject than ever before,” Hill says.
In Hill’s opinion, those against the Common Core standards represent a small minority of the state.
“As has been the case countless times before, education stands at a crossroads where the voices of the few may disrupt the path that I believe to be associated with success.”
School superintendents emphasized that districts have invested a lot of money into implementing these standards-surpassing hundreds of millions of dollars around the state.
If the bill were to pass-it would allow Common Core to continue for this school year. Then the state would implement standards used in Massachusetts while Ohio leaders create a third, all-new set of standards in 2017.
The House plans to hold several more hearings on the bill in the coming weeks.