There are major changes happening in the American public education system, and there are a lot of people who are downright mad about it.
Ohio is implementing the Common Core State Standards, a set of uniform expectations for what students should know at each grade level.
Proponents say that the new standards, which replace the myriad standards used by individual states, will make high school graduates prepared for a career or college. But a vocal opposition is building against the standards.
About 100 people crammed into a room in the Sylvania branch library Thursday evening to hear Heidi Huber, founder of Ohioans Against Common Core, discuss why she doesn’t just think the standards are a bad idea, but why they are part of a long attempt by progressives to force standardized education on local communities, equalize outcomes of students, and push social justice and progressive ideas on unwilling families.
The event was sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition and the Northwest Ohio Catholic Teachers and Parents Alliance. The Conservative Coalition held a similar forum about Common Core earlier this year in Maumee, and the organizations have another forum planned in February.
Common Core, Ms. Huber said, takes away local control of education, will pass individual data on students to the federal government, and will lead to indoctrination of children.
While not everyone who opposes Common Core or elements of it are conservative, Thursday's event was overtly partisan. Ms. Huber tied Common Core to the Affordable Care Act, saying both are really about collecting data and controlling Americans' lives.
“Those two programs are inherently for the same objective, which is to control us,” she said.
The Common Core was developed in a process led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and has been adopted by 45 states, including Ohio and Michigan. Much of the idea behind the standards is to teach fewer concepts, and in an in-depth way.
While adoption was voluntary, the federal government gave a strong incentive by making adoption of the standards a requirement for awards in the Race to the Top grant program, which gave states billions in federal funds for school reforms. Opponents say that's not an incentive, its bribery and coercion.
The Common Core is not a curriculum, and school districts get to choose their own curriculum.
“Legislation requires standards to be developed, but does not require districts or schools to use them,” Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said.
Ms. Huber, though, said that is a myth, and that districts end up being coerced into using them because tests being designed by a consortium of states will be aligned to the standards. Those tests will be used in Ohio starting next year.
New teacher evaluations are tied to test results. And districts that received Race to the Top money were required to pilot implementation of the standards.
Through agreements between states, those behind Common Core, and the federal government, data on individuals will eventually end up in federal government hands, and Ms. Huber said the whole operation is essentially being run by the Obama Administration.
“It's evil,” Virginia Mueller said of Common Core.
Ms. Mueller has a third-grade son in the Patrick Henry Local Schools district. The homework he brings home is so convoluted, she said, that it doesn't make sense.
Tina Burns of Holgate, Ohio, said that her granddaughter has been getting Fs in first grade for math work she thinks shouldn't be taught until the third grade. She agreed with Ms. Huber that the Common Core will indoctrinate students.
“I don't want them to become little soldiers,” she said.
Forum participants were asked to sign a petition supporting legislation that would pull Ohio out of Common Core. And Ms. Huber asked that they advocate against the standards to legislators and school boards.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.
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