October 26, 2014

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Ohio lawmakers want Common Core standards repealed

COLUMBUS (AP) — Republican lawmakers in the state House are beginning a push to repeal Common Core learning standards by year’s end, citing widespread discontent they’re hearing from parents, teachers and communities.

Reps. Matt Huffman, of Lima, and Andy Thompson, of Marietta, said Monday that Ohio made a mistake four years ago in pursuing the standards and their legislation would seize back state control over the process.

“I don’t think there’s an issue that I’ve heard more about in the last two or three months than this,” Huffman said at a news conference.

The legislators characterized the standards as federal mandates, though they were developed with the help of educators from participating states, including Ohio. Thompson said states were enticed to take part with promises of federal dollars they desperately needed during the recession and it essentially turned into a federal process.

“The fact is we were not in control of this, and certainly the mandated assessments were something we were not in control of,” he said. “And it’s kind of, I want to say, creepy the way this whole thing landed in Ohio with all the things pre-packaged.”

It’s unclear whether the bill could pass. Districts already are well on their way to implementing the standards, which have the backing of a diverse coalition of Ohio groups including teachers’ unions, superintendents, the Urban League and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Huffman predicted a vote would come after the November election.

He said GOP House Speaker Bill Batchelder supports the repeal but Republican Senate President Keith Faber only wished him luck with it when he called Monday. Republican Gov. John Kasich has been fairly quiet on the topic, while the Ohio Department of Education has moved ahead with its rollout.

Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper said the lawmakers were misleading when they said teachers oppose the standards. She said teachers have raised concerns about implementation problems but largely support the idea of boosting national standards across state boundaries. She said the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers union voted at its recent convention to back the standards, with about 80 percent of members supportive.

Cropper said some of Ohio’s large urban districts have spent the last two years preparing for the launch.

“All that time, energy and resources would be wasted,” she said. “I think it will absolutely throw our districts in chaos.”

The lawmakers said organizations may support the standards but that doesn’t mean all their members, or Ohio families, do.

“They have a different perspective than the customers and the people who are sending their kids,” Huffman said.

He said Ohio’s existing standards would be adapted in the bill and the state school board would continue to have a role in the final product.