The Ohio House Education Committee heard testimony on Wednesday on a bill that would bar the state from implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative. That’s all the polite hearing House Bill 237, whose sponsors include state Rep. Kristina Roegner, a Hudson Republican, should receive. The effect of the bill would be to set back much-needed reforms Ohio and several other states jointly initiated and have adopted voluntarily during the past few years.
Among other claims, critics contend the Common Core was foisted on the state, with no public input, by Washington (or alternately, by business interests represented by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in a grab for local control.
What the critics don’t acknowledge is that Republican and Democratic governors in the bipartisan National Governors Association worked with state superintendents and educators in the Council of Chief State School Officers. The organizations were responding to concerns that long have been expressed by business leaders and reported in numerous surveys that the nation’s educational system and work force capabilities were falling behind those of competitors.
The Common Core is not a decree. The goals are to clarify what students are expected to know and be able to do at different grade levels and to develop minimum standards that states and local districts could use as benchmarks in developing their own curriculums and assessments.
It is wrong to assert that the governors’ and state educators’ associations were co-opted, enlisted to provide cover while Washington took over control of public education. Mistaken, too, is the notion that the federal Race to the Top grant was the reason Ohio adopted the Common Core. Neither Ohio nor any state was required to adopt the Common Core or to apply for the federal grant. Ohio actively participated in developing the Common Core standards before it ever applied for Race to the Top grants, the State Board of Education voting to adopt the standards as a vehicle to raise academic performance. House Bill 237 is a distraction when Ohio should be focused on helping teachers and students prepare for the higher standards.