School districts have spent years preparing to implement the education standards known as Common Core -- which are set to start this coming school year. Now House Republicans are renewing their efforts to repeal the standards. The bill could be on the fast track to the House floor.
Republican Representative Andy Thompson of Marietta has been a vocal critic of the Common Core standards which were developed by a group of state education leaders from around the country.
His new bill would repeal the standards and replace them with new provisions based on educational benchmarks used in Massachusetts. These are standards, Thompson says that have been tested and proven. “We know that nothing fails like the federal government and when the federal government is in charge of things like this the notion is we won’t know for 10 years whether it worked. I want standards that we know have worked.”
Republican Matt Huffman, the speaker pro tem from Lima, echoed Thompson’s criticism of policy made on the national level and says education cannot be tailored to fit every student around the country. “This is beginning to prove another disaster by the federal government in terms of attempting to implement the same system not only in 50 states but multiple communities that are different throughout the third largest country in the world.”
Groups such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce have come out in support of the standards. Tom Ash with the Buckeye Association of School Administrators says Common Core presents stronger standards that prepare students for college and the workforce.
Ash: “They’re gonna have completely different teachers with completely different styles. They may have different instructional materials. They may have different learning methodologies but nevertheless the outcome should look the same. And I think employers want to expect that a kid that completes a high school diploma for example has a certain set of skills.”
A major flaw, in Thompson’s opinion, is that Common Core involves too much testing. And while Melissa Cropper, president for the Ohio Federation of Teachers, agrees that there’s an over-reliance on testing she says that’s a separate issue from the standards. “The standards themselves are very, very good but we do have a problem in Ohio with over-testing and using testing for the wrong purposes I believe that the legislators are tying these together now because that’s the only way they can get people upset about the standards is to link the two together.”
Cropper adds that any new set of standards would still come with testing provisions.
While these education groups are standing in support of Common Core, Thompson says that might not be the best representation of how teachers and administrators actually feel, because of the pressure of trying to get federal funds. “There’s a pressure not to speak up and say negative things about Common Core because of the financial aspects that folks were concerned about.”
Thompson says he understands that teachers and schools have put in a lot of work—adjusting curriculum to begin following Common Core this fall but believes it’s still important to set Ohio on a different path.
If the Legislature were to approve some change to Common Core, Ash believes it wouldn’t go into effect until the next school year. “I don’t think that probably they would seek to change the standards in the middle of the year because again I think that would create the chaos that they’re trying to avoid.”
Huffman says he hopes to hold committee hearings on the bill in two weeks and possibly a vote on the House floor by November. He says the bill will bypass the education committee where another effort to repeal Common Core has stalled.