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Published: Tuesday, 7/29/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Ohio bill would scrap Common Core model

Huffman, Thompson. Huffman, Thompson.

COLUMBUS — A pair of Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to repeal Common Core education standards that critics argue usurp local control of schools and place too much emphasis on standardized testing.

“The full House, the caucus, has never really had a chance to talk about this,” said Rep. Matt Huffman (R., Lima), the No. 2 leader of the House.

“I think if we have 15 to 20 hours of testimony, members of our caucus will be better educated, and we can be clear ... that leadership of the House supports the repeal of these Common Core standards with a substitution of high standards and getting the federal government out of the business of education in Ohio,” he said.

The standards are a national effort to put states on the same page when it comes to what students should know at specific grade levels. They initially enjoyed bipartisan support in Ohio but have become an election-year hot potato for conservative Republicans.

An outgrowth of the bipartisan National Governors Association, Common Core was embraced by chambers of commerce across the country and the Obama Administration. Ohio embraced it for selected districts when it successfully pursued competitive Race to the Top federal funds in 2010. It has expanded from there.

The hearings on House Bill 597, co-sponsored with Rep. Andy Thompson (R., Marietta), will bypass the House Education Committee, whose chairman has supported Common Core. The hearings next month will instead be heard by the House Rules Committee led by Mr. Huffman.

The bill was characterized as a “placeholder” until final language can be worked out on what will replace the standards. The General Assembly is in summer recess and may not return until after the Nov. 4 election.

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Republican Gov. John Kasich, said the governor “shares a lot of their concerns” and is “looking at their ideas closely.”

Greg Harris, Ohio director of the nonprofit StudentsFirst, said repeal of the standards would be a mistake. The education reform organization was founded by Michele Rhee, who was raised in Toledo and served as chancellor of the Washington school system.

“We live in an era where state leaders need to set higher standards for what students can achieve, not walk away from them,” Mr. Harris said. “Attempts to derail this effort are highly irresponsible and compromise the integrity of the education that our children receive.”

Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, disputed suggestions teachers are also second-guessing the Common Core.

“Teachers overwhelmingly believe the Common Core is a better way of instruction,” she said. “Teachers who are already using the new standards in their classrooms see that students more easily learn the material, retain it, and apply it in other aspects of their learning.”

A handful of states have recently backed away from the standards to some extent. Mr. Huffman offered no apologies about moving to halt Common Core four years into the process.

“We can’t just watch as the ship crashes into the rocks,” he said.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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