Eye on Education

Opposition to National Common Core Standards Grows in Ohio

Bruce Ackerman / Star-Banner Photo/Landov

Opposition to the Common Core is growing in Ohio and other states, including Indiana, Michigan and Florida, where this protester lives.

Michelle Maitino volunteers at her daughters’ school. She checks their homework, volunteers in in the library, and keeps in touch with their teachers. But until recently, she didn’t know that a new, national set of standards called the Common Core was coming to her daughters’ Catholic school.

“It’s a whole new curriculum but no one even knows about it,” Maitino said, who found out for sure only after she set up a personal meeting with the school’s principal.

Maitino, who lives in Lorain County, searched the Internet. She chatted with other mothers in an online parenting group. And the more she learned about the Common Core, the less she liked it.

“I don’t think the federal government should be regulating our education. I think we should be regulating our own education in our own state,” she said.

Maitino is one of a growing number of Ohio parents, grandparents, and other residents who are opposed to the Common Core, a set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in math and English at each grade level. The Common Core is supposed to set higher standards for students across the nation and help ensure students are better prepared for jobs or college once they graduate high school.

Ohio is one of 45 states that have fully adopted the Common Core, which was developed by teachers, math and language experts and others in an effort organized by state school chiefs and governors. The new standards come with a new set of standardized tests that are to be given entirely online.

The Ohio State Board of Education approved the new standards in June 2010 and they are already being implemented in some schools. But many parents are just catching up with the news and uneasy about the changes.

Various groups have planned at least half a dozen panel discussions on the Common Core across Ohio in the coming weeks.

The Ohio School Boards Leadership Council, a conservative school leadership group, is sponsoring an informational panel discussion Saturday in Lewis Center, north of Columbus. About 240 people have registered so far, said leadership council communications director Jon Lewallen.

“We’ve got people driving hours to attend,” Lewallen said. “That tells me at least that this is something that’s on a lot of people’s minds.”

A Question of Local Control

For many Ohioans who don’t like the Common Core, it’s a question of local control.

They’re worried that local schools won’t have leeway in what they teach students. They’re worried they’ll have little recourse if they don’t like what schools teach.  And some feel like they never really had a say in the process.

Some of the opponents have children or grandchildren in public schools. Others have children in private schools or are homeschoolers. Only public schools must teach to the Common Core, but some private schools plan to do so too. And some homeschooling parents think the new standards could end up affecting their children too.

Jen Gorton, who homeschools her children, is helping organize a public forum on the Common Core at her family’s church in Geauga County later this spring.

“They could be the best national standards ever but the problem for us is that it took it away from the state and local control,” she said. “If the people in the state didn’t choose it, we feel that that is wrong.”

“They could be the best national standards ever but the problem for us is that it took it away from the state and local control…If the people in the state didn’t choose it, we feel that that is wrong.”
–Geauga County parent Jen Gorton

Compared with other educational reforms such as Ohio’s new school report card system or the expansion of private-school vouchers, the adoption of the Common Core saw relatively little debate in the state legislature.

The head of the Ohio Department of Education, Richard Ross, said this week that Ohio is not budging on the Common Core. Ross said even under the Common Core, local school districts will still get to decide the details of how and what they teach students.

“I think as long as we maintain that local control [over] how we’re going to achieve the standards and goals and the local districts get to decide the implementation policies about their curriculum, then I think we’re going to be alright,” he said.

But, Ross said, public schools still must give students the new standardized tests. And those tests are based on the Common Core.

Wait, There’s More

Ohioans’ concerns about the Common Core don’t stop with local control.

Some are concerned that the Common Core standards are less rigorous than Ohio’s previous state standards. (The Fordham Institute, which is a supporter of the Common Core, says that may be true for other states, but not for Ohio.)

The new standards emphasize reading non-fiction texts more than the current standards do. They call for a new way of teaching math. They’re tied to a push to collect more information about students for research and other purposes. And adopting the Common Core means schools will need to spend money training teachers, buying new textbooks and buying computers for students to take the new, online tests.

Those changes don’t sit well with some Ohioans, to say the least.

State Board of Education Member Sarah Fowler said she’s heard from people in nearly every county in her district who are concerned about the Common Core.

“One lady handed me a list of her top 12 items of things she disliked,” Fowler said.

Educating Parents

Many Ohio schools are already teaching the Common Core. By next school year, the Ohio Department of Education expects all schools to be teaching it. Students start taking the new Common Core tests in 2014-15. [See the Ohio Common Core Timeline.]

Some school districts have held community meetings or launched parent education efforts to explain what the Common Core means for local students and schools.

For many, the message hasn’t been received.

“The response I’ve gotten from my constituents is that ‘We haven’t heard about this before; the wool is being pulled over our eyes,’” Fowler said.

Bills to slow or reject implementation of the Common Core are active in state legislatures in several states – including Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Kansas. Bills in other states – including South Dakota, Alabama and Georgia — have been introduced, but failed to pass.

Anti-Common Core activists from other states have helped Ohioans launch an Ohioans Against the Common Core website and Facebook page. Heather Crossin, a former Congressional aide who is one of the leaders of an anti-Common Core group in Indiana, will be appearing at several Ohio anti-Common Core panels. And outside conservative or free-market groups, including the American Principles Project, the Pioneer Project and the Heartland Institute, are contributing their expertise too.

Everyone who has concerns about the Common Core is not necessarily opposed to it.

Jon Lewallen, from the Ohio School Board Leadership Council, said he doesn’t know if he’s in favor of the Common Core.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t know what we’re even committed to,” he said. “There’s just a lot of unknowns and it seems like the more people do know, the better off we are.”

StateImpact Ohio reporter Ida Lieszkovszky contributed to this story.


  • Kelly M.

    The way it was described by one former teacher…it is like building the airplane while learning to fly. We have had govt. run reform before (NCLB/RttT) with less than stellar result but a big hit in the pocket to taxpayers. Kids are being taught to take exams. There is literally billions of dollars being made on standardized testing. I would like to see the ‘data’ that all of these exams are actually benefiting our kids academically. Education has become big business, and our kids are the guinea pigs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gwen-Francine-Wise/1395567587 Gwen Francine Wise

    We are the 45 state to FINALLY adopt Cores standards and Ohio’s stds are not as rigorous as the national stds. If Ohio stds were more rigorous and we were going backwards I would understand. I like the fact that a parent will now know what is expected in every grade and that our kids will be prepared regardless where they go to college or live after college. I am glad it lessens local control. I have special needs kids , when I asked our last school district what writing curriculum they used (and this was a huge SD with excellent ratings), they would not answer me. They said it was up to the discretion of the teacher. Problem is that they were modifying the curriculum according to classrooms with underperforming kids but not providing IEPs, but it was hard to pinpoint with “local control”. With Common Core the stds are across the bd and transparent. Great!

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathi.dunlap Kathi Dunlap

      I appreciate your thoughts, Gwen, but you have the ability to influence what happens at the local level. If you cannot pinpoint “local control”, then what happens when bureaucrats are dictating our standards? You’ll be able to pinpoint what they’re doing, perhaps, but you won’t be able to influence it in any meaningful way. Who is ultimately responsible for teaching your children? If you think it is the federal government, I would respectfully ask you to go read the Constitution. If it is you, then welcome local control. I, too, have a special needs daughter and I’m sympathetic with the frustrations that come from IEPs. But surrendering the job of educating our children to bureaucrats isn’t the answer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gwen-Francine-Wise/1395567587 Gwen Francine Wise

        I personally do not think it is the job of local governments to set national educational stds. Back in the 1800s-1900s perhaps, but not in the 21st century and I do not think this has anything to do with the Federal constitution. And, influencing local politics I personally think is as difficult or maybe more difficult. Yes, I think Federal bureaucrats and actually it is not just bureaucrats but lots of think tanks, other states, non profits, etc have input into federal policy. I have a lot more confidence in having a lot of great minds developing policy than my local government. Ps -please don’t respectfully and really it is meant to be a condescending dig ask me to read the Federal constitution unless you are a federal constitutional law expert.

        • duckmonkeyman

          You should at least read the Common Core Standards. Sadly, your confidence is misplaced. The standards are poorly written and provide little leeway for teaching or adaptation – regardless what the “experts” say. Innovation is squashed for the sake of commonality. Learning is replaced by test preparation. I greatly fear we are causing a lost generation by rapidly adopting these standards based on the opinions of a few. If you care for the next generation, start questioning. And for good measure, follow the money.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gwen-Francine-Wise/1395567587 Gwen Francine Wise

            I have read them thoroughly, I just have a different opinion than yours. Do we test too much, yep! Teach too much to the test, yep! Frankly, I am not a huge proponent of public schools. However, I don’t think local control is the answer. We have national stds for lots of things, environmental regs (state regs must be a stringent or more stringent than federal regs), banking regs, consumer protection, food safety, the list goes on and on. Education is one of the few areas where the US still thinks rest of the world is undereducated and less developed.

          • duckmonkeyman

            If you have read the standards thoroughly and understand the PARCC testing initiative but still think we test too much, I do not understand how you can resolve those issues. Most people who are “not a proponent” of public schools cannot offer a better alternative. Private schools cherry pick and can (and do) push the more difficult kids onto the very public schools you condemn. If private schools operated under the same conditions as public, we would see different outcomes. Often, when pressed why public schools are “bad”, the naysayers have no specifics other than right-winged talking points or inaccurate heresay. Regulatory standards may indeed have a purpose at the national level. But standards have a downside in that they eliminate innovation. That is fine if you are measuring lead concentrations in toys or thread sizes for bolts. Not so good when reaching young minds. Finally, since “A Nation at Risk”, the opposite is true. The U.S. has embraced a paranoia rooted in a fear of losing world status placing the entire blame on our teachers and education system.

        • Mike Hulsey

          Thinking that you need to be a constitutional expert to understand what our founders wrote is a large part of our problem today. This Country was founded to avoid the central control of a King. Our Founders believed that power should remain with the states not a powerful central government. This idea allows for a government more responsive to the needs of the individual. When one state makes a bad decision the other states are not harmed. When a state makes a good decision others are free to adopt it. Common Core is a huge power grab to control the education (some call it indoctrination) of all our children by a few “experts”,what if they are wrong? With local control we remain a free people with control over our daily lives. With Federal control we become the slaves of a few elite progressives.

    • RedHarley


      You stated “I personally do not think it is the job of local governments to set national educational stds.”

      That quote is one of the biggest problems many of us see in you thinking. There should not be such a thing as “national standards”. National standards for education are not among the enumerated powers of the federal government. Those are relegated to the states and local governments. You have fallen into the trap of believing that the federal government has role in regulating everything in the country, but that is not how the founders set up our system of government. Do you really thing that the same standards that would be beneficial for a child in Brooklyn should be the same for a child in Alaska or rural .Arkansas ? Of course not. The “think tanks” and other organizations that get in on these programs often have a political and social agenda that has no place in the education of our kids. They are teaching them WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. This is the domain of folks like Bill Ayers, and regardless your political affiliation you have to realize this is NOT good.

      • Coinspring

        This statement makes no sense….

        “Do you really think that the same standards that would be beneficial for a child in Brooklyn should be the same for a child in Alaska or rural .Arkansas ?”

        Yes, yes I do. The same education for both would be beneficial. How can you see it otherwise???

        Is your point that an Alaska child should learn to clean fish, the Arkansas kid should learn to farm, and Brooklyn kid should learn to shoot craps? Come on….this is about equality for all. Standards should be the same for all!

        • RedHarley

          Of course the statement makes no sense to you. You are a statist, and therefore have no common sense in my opinion. The more local the government the more responsive it is to the needs of the community. That is just a fact. The same hold true for schools. The parents and the community should be the ones making the decisions on how their children are educated, not a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC. National standards do nothing to advance learning, only advancing agendas. The federal government was NEVER intended to have the kind of power it wields, especially using the carrot and stick approach as it has with common core.. Had you learned how the country was founded and why the founders warned against the abuses of an all powerful federal government you would understand.

  • Cranios

    No doubt it will contain lots of politically-correct thinking, too. Washington’s leftist elites have done nothing to earn our trust, so why should we trust that they will do anything other than work to control and manipulate the people?

  • jenni

    I think it’s crazy how Ohio plans to include prenatal and preschool records into the child’s k12 record, along with other personal info they collect, which will follow him through career and will be made available to private entities.

    • http://www.facebook.com/christine.kremposkyryan Christine Kremposky Ryan

      Where did you hear this, Jenni?

      • duckmonkeyman

        It is true. Big money behind it. Google “inBloom”

  • duckmonkeyman

    If a software company released a major product to market with zero quality assurance and no beta testing, that company would soon be out of business. That describes Common Core. Yet, our students are being used as pawns and the teachers as expendable means to an end. The standards are being widely adopted with no trials, no evidence as to their effectiveness, and no flexibility for the classroom teacher to correct for deficiencies. The end test becomes the end all be all, not learning or critical thought. A picture of lemmings going over a cliff should be the logo for the standards. Parents must wake up and understand what is going on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Bracken/1408295595 Karen Bracken

    COMMON CORE: Takes the learning out of education. Lets also not forget the huge amounts of personal data that is going to be collected. They are interested in behavioral modification NOT education people so you better wake up real fast and END COMMON CORE. This curriculum will be laced with propaganda and your child will be monitored all day long for signs of free will. Obedient slaves is what they want. And dumb slaves at that. Stupid people are easier to control and they use less resources. AGENDA 21 Chapter 36. Read it!!

    • Libertyone

      Well said, all true. Dangerous territory. We need to stand together. This is our country after all. The best tool we have is to de- program daily and NOT SHOW UP on standardized test days.

  • Mark Smith

    I have been teaching for many years, and see the Common Core as yet another bandwagon to be jumped upon, then abandoned. I’ve seen filmstrips, overhead projectors, open classrooms, small group-large group, cooperative learning, everyday Math, Whole Language, and many other fads come and go. I honestly think Common Core will be history by time I retire in a few years.

  • Eric Baumann

    If you haven’t heard about the common core you have no idea what is going on in your child’s classroom. The fact that private and religious based schools who are getting more and more state funding but play by a different set of rules is a true travesty. If public school kids have to do this then when shouldn’t all students? Why should those kids have the ability to use my taxes to do something my kids can’t? Why wouldn’t you want more rigorous standards. The real problem is in the assessment and the costs associated with having to give the PAARC.

    • Meg

      Eric Baumann, my grandkids all went to private religious schools that received no funding from the govt. We still paid taxes to support public school as you do. It was a sacrifice to pay tuition that was well worth it. Two are still in private religious school that teaches as I was taught in public school in the 40′s and 50′s. They are several grades ahead of public schools. And, no, they do not teach common core.

    • Coinspring

      If the private schools you mention perform at an academic standard that is lower than your child’s own school, and they are being funded by the state, then you have a valid argument. They should adhere to the Common Core as well in that case if everyone else has to.


      Question: Who pays to send their kids to a private school that has weak academics? Is there such a thing?

      Hint: Private schools have no issues with performing at a level substantially higher than the Common Core allows. They do not need bare-minimum curriculum. This diminishes your argument.

      Private schools do not need Federal Standards unless they too under-perform like “free” schools.

  • double edged sword

    I have mixed feelings about this program, but I will say this: I find it interesting that the Gates Foundation largely funds and promotes this, and that all the tests will be required to be conducted online. I can’t wait to see if the computers purchased by the schools will all be required to carry only Microsoft programs. Something to look into.

  • DavidS

    More standardized testing….. Awesome…. American school children are the most heavily tested, in regards to standardized testing, students in the world. Multiple choice tests, whether administered with a paper and pencil or on a computer screen does not encourage learning. Especially when there is so much tied to the outcomes of those “high-stakes” tests. Everyone wonders why the United States isn’t number one in education, simply stated standardized testing and teacher respect. All of the top ranked countries, Finland and Singapore, do not give anywhere close to the same level of standardized tests we do. Teachers in those countries all have degrees comparable to a Master’s, are paid on par with medical doctors, and are given the freedom to teach what they want inside their classroom. Where did these countries get the ideas to implement these things? The United States which is still the number one country for producing curriculum and education theory, but for some reason we allow our education policy to be hijacked by politicians who ignore the true experts in the field of education.

    The United States’ education policies over the past thirty years have been a joke, and lower the bar of learning on our students. It is characterized by a continual blaming of public education for everything wrong in society and it all started with Reagen and “A Nation at Risk”. Flash forward to Obama and it is just a more intensive push for what lay people know isn’t working, and what experts have been proving doesn’t work for over thirty years. Race to the Top should be titled Race to the Bottom, because essentially it forces everyone to strive for the bottom on the cognitive learning scale instead of the top. It creates a learning floor not a ceiling. Look at any school mission statement and ask yourself, does this mission statement in anyway reflect the realities of what the school is doing? Take a look at Bloom’s taxonomy and you’ll realize that they are not. Politicians and school mission statements talk a good talk, but they do not walk the walk in developing well educated children who are pushed to their cognitive limit and developed holistically.

  • Bernie Mac

    This is by far the worst article I have ever read. I am against common core, but this article has no substance. There is literally no statistic about how how common core works. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Wallis/100002353055483 William Wallis

    The core standards are a pipe dream created by academics who can’t teach. The dumbing down of our kids is the result.

  • Stoneypoint

    What we are doing now must be perfect. Only 60% of college students have to take remedial math.

  • kimhil

    This is sad, thank goodness people are educating themselves; common core is another money and power grab.

    What are we going to tell our children when they ask, what did you do to stop the unconstitutional situations we have inherited? Some people will be able to say all that was possible.

    Please research this and how Agenda 21 is connected to infringement on civil liberties – we can no longer expect someone else to take care of problems – this attitude has allowed the corrupt to take unprecedented freedoms. Corruption is not a party affliction, it is a human flaw.

  • NoWhineHere…CC is good

    Now teachers have to be more creative…teach to learning objectives and outcomes rather than to some state-centric exam, prompt improvement in teaching and learning partly by reflecting on what all that data pushed to the state means for a classroom.

  • Pam E.

    our state should never had agreed to this. It’s all about the state receiving money from the federal gov’t. Ruin our kids over money just infuriates me. I am worried about my grandchildren. Is there a way to stop this monstrosity?

  • Coinspring

    I am on the fence if this is a good idea or not, but what strikes me is that If public schools are going to be getting federal money at any level, it seems logical that they should adhere to a set of basic standards provided by the federal government.

    No one is saying a states individual standards cannot be higher than the common core requires.

    No one is saying an individual school cannot have higher standards than the state requires.

    *Most federal money goes to low income school districts. Is it too much to ask these schools to perform at a remedial level? This is a least common denominator discussion….I don’t understand the fear from everyone.

    I for one am tired of the fact that most developed nations are way ahead of us. This is simply because we as a nation are lazy overall when it comes to education. Establishing basic standards at a national level are a good first step imo.

  • sadteacher

    This is very disturbing stuff for our children! As a 2nd grade teacher, it pains me to see the frustration in these poor little children’s eyes. Most of them are not developmentally ready for the material in the common core. Teachers have no say in it! This was imposed on us! Politicians and big businesses are in this for money. Not to mention the testing companies that are making millions of dollars at the expense of students and teachers. This is BAD, people…we have to stand up and fight for the children. Corporate American greed has its ugly hands in public schools!

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