Common Core opponents spent three days in hearings this week urging Ohio lawmakers to pass a bill that would repeal the Common Core standards in their state.
House Bill 597, jointly sponsored by Reps. Andrew Thompson (R) and Matt Huffman (R), would eliminate the controversial standards after the coming school year, implement the former Massachusetts standards for the next two years, and then impose new Ohio-created standards beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.
Additionally, the bill would prohibit the state from withholding funds from a school district that chooses not to adopt the standards or state testing.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, while the intent of the bill is not to have schools avoid graduation tests, Huffman said high-performing schools could be permitted to opt out of tests given in grades 3 through 8.
“We don’t want them to have to keep taking tests just because they are an Ohio school,” the lawmaker said. “There’s a group of schools where all the kids are high-performing and 95 percent of kids go to Ivy League schools. Do they need to take time on these tests?”
H.B. 597 also calls for new science and social studies standards because, according to Huffman, “There’s been a suggestion that those aren’t Common Core. Someone said they are Common Core, but they just aren’t calling them that.”
Huffman added that the science and social studies standards were adopted at the same time as the Common Core math and English standards.
“It’s unclear… exactly how those were prepared. It’s unclear whether those are the same kind of standards or not,” he said.
In his testimony before Ohio lawmakers, James Stergios, executive director of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute research group, questioned the pro-Common Core talking point that the standards were “state-led,” pointing out that two private, nonprofit groups own the copyright to the standards. Stergios also characterized the Common Core standards as mediocre and costly to the states.
“The bill is good news for Ohio but can also act as a blueprint for other states that refuse to be satisfied with the Common Core’s mediocre quality,” Stergios later told Breitbart News.
“This bill could serve as inspiration for states that are looking for a pathway to real educational excellence,” he added. “In the past, a number of state officials have asked: if not Common Core, what? This bill starts to answer that question.”
Other experts who testified in favor of the bill to repeal the Common Core standards included Mike Donnelly, staff attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Ze’ev Wurman, a Hoover Institution visiting scholar, and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project.
Testifying against the bill and in favor of the Common Core standards were Susan Bodary and Paolo DeMaria of Education First, which represents the Ohio Business Roundtable.
“While the standards focus on what is most essential, they do not describe all that can or should be taught,” Bodary said. “A great deal is left to the discretion of teachers and curriculum developers.”
Bodary, who acknowledged that Bill Gates has been a client of her firm’s in the past, said problems with the standards have developed due to poor implementation decisions and lack of experience on the part of schools and teachers. She noted as well that all seven of Ohio’s Catholic dioceses have voluntarily implemented the Common Core standards.
Heidi Huber, a parent organizer of Ohioans Against Common Core, spoke with Breitbart News about the bill and the hearing.
“What’s happening in Ohio is very exciting. HB597 takes a new approach to the repeal and replace effort, with a huge step towards returning control to local districts and utilizing high performing, proven standards,” Huber said. “Speaker Pro Tempore and Rules Committee Chairman Huffman sized it up well within his remarks, ‘…putting aside the process and financial interest debate, what was adopted is a bad product…'”
“With a large Republican majority caucus heading into a general election, the demise of Common Core in Ohio seems imminent,” Huber added. “Why would any politician subject Ohio’s students to a sub-par education program?”
If the Ohio House Rules and Reference Committee sign off on the proposal next month, a potential floor vote in the House could take place in November when the session begins. The measure would then have to pass the state senate.
“We’re going to wait and see what the House does,” Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R) said, according to the Daily Record.
“We started evaluating the academic standards a while ago. The Senate worked real hard to instill some checks and balances…” Faber continued. “I think it’s important that we have local control over education in Ohio, but the most important thing for me is that we have increased academic achievement in Ohio. That’s what we’re going to keep focusing on.”
Gov. John Kasich (R) said Thursday he is willing to look at a Republican bill concerning the Common Core standards. He didn’t say, however, whether he would sign a repeal bill should one reach his desk.
“I hope they turn over some good information,” Kasich said. “If there’s more to do, we’ll take a really good look at it.”
“I just want to have high standards, and I want to make sure we maintain local control so local school boards and local parents are the ones that design the curriculum to meet the standards,” the Governor added. “We need high standards. We don’t need interference from Columbus or Washington to get this done. It should be done locally.”