Lawmakers in the state of Ohio are mounting a late effort to have their state join the growing exodus from Common Core multistate education standards.
A new bill would mandate the immediate abandonment of Common Core and the implementation of brand new standards.
Ohio, like many states, chose to start the switch to Common Core about four years ago, encouraged in part by the potential awarding of funds from President Obama’s federal Race to the Top program. Now, with the standards set to take full effect this fall, activists on the right are in revolt against what they are calling a federal takeover of education.
The bill is a late effort, and even now the law is filled with placeholder text as lawmakers try to craft the finer details. Backers say new standards will draw inspiration from the most successful ones in place by states prior to Common Core’s advent. Rep. Andrew Thompson, one of the leading anti-Common Core voices in the state, says Massachusetts is a particular source of inspiration.
Despite the law’s currently amorphous nature, hearings are expected to begin in August, with backers hoping to pass the law in November during a lame-duck session following the midterm elections.
Backers are using every tactic they can to get the bill approved in the short time frame they have to work with. The bill will be introduced through the House Rules Committee, headed by a supporter of the bill, instead of in the House Education Committee, which is chaired by a Common Core supporter.
Supporters of a repeal are hoping that sitting House members will be influenced by the defeat of Rep. Peter Stautberg during May’s Republican primary. Stautberg’s opponent, Tom Brinkman, had made opposition to Common Core a central issue of his campaign and used it to rally tea party support.
While several Republican leaders in the state house support the push, other Republicans believe success is unlikely.
“I would be shocked if it got the necessary support,” Rep. Gerald Stebelton told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Stebelton chairs the Education Committee that supporters are working to evade.
Even if the bill can escape the House, formidable obstacles will remain. The Ohio Senate has seen little enthusiasm for Common Core revisions, while Gov. John Kasich has repeatedly expressed his support for the standards.
While other Republican governors like Mary Fallin in Oklahoma and Pat McCrory in North Carolina have backtracked on support for Common Core in the face of political pressure, Kasich would have less reason to do so. Since the bill’s targeted passage time in November would come after Kasich’s current reelection effort is resolved, Kasich will either be a lame duck or have a recent endorsement of the state’s voters that would make him less needy for support from state Republicans.
Kasich, however, has signaled that he may be open to adjusting his position. On Tuesday afternoon, he told The Columbus Dispatch that he “share[s] the concern about loss of local control” expressed by Common Core opponents. Kasich, however, reiterated that he still backs Common Core and will take a wait-and-see approach with the House’s endeavor.
“Let them have their hearings,” Kasich said. “We’ll see what all of this is.”
If Ohio withdraws from Common Core this year, it would be the fifth state to do so, following Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina. Missouri has approved a bill to potentially revise Common Core as well, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is locked in a legal battle with the state board of education, which is resisting executive orders that aim to end Common Core in the state.
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