Despite Opposition, The Common Core Has A Firm Footing In Ohio

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Brad McQueen, a 5th grade public school teacher from Tucson, Arizona, has made a personal crusade of denouncing the Common Core. McQueen was a featured speaker at an anti-Common Core rally at the Ohio statehouse last week. The new standards are meant to raise the bar of student achievement to better prepare kids for the global economy, but McQueen views them as nothing less than a travesty, and saidthose pushing the Common Core are misguided.

“They like to compare our kids and say they don’t measure up on standardized tests given around the world,” McQueen said.

“Finland outperforms us, they say. China outperforms us. Singapore outperforms us. I say: Let them be the championship test takers. Let ‘em!” His voice rises. “Our kids are too busy changing the world!”

With that, the crowd of about 200 breaks into applause.

Heidi Huber is thrilled with the speech, and optimistic that the Common Core will eventually be turned out in Ohio. Huber heads the statewide group Ohioans Against Common Core, and organized this rally in the Statehouse atrium. Among her top complaints against the Common Core is that it takes take away local control of education standards.

“It goes against everything we are,” she said. “You can’t have local control assessed by a national standard. Those two things are incompatible.”

Such sentiments have fueled the anti-Common Core movement all over the country.

Common Core opponents won recent victories in three states. Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana all withdrew from participation this year in the new education standards for math and English. Other states have slowed implementation. The moves reflect growing resistance, particularly in “red” states, to the Common Core.

But they don’t seem to be catching fire in Ohio – at least not with Republican Governor John Kasich or key lawmakers. A bill introduced last year that would void the state’s adoption of the Common Core has been stalled in the House. Education Committee Chairman Gerald Stebbleton, also a Republican, repeated last week his stance that the bill is dead in the water.

“As long as I’m the chairman of the House Education Committee, we’re going to have Common Core,” he told Ohio Public Radio.

Over in the Senate Education Committee, Chairwoman Peggy Lehner likewise is committed to the Common Core.

“You know, I have a copy of the standards sitting right there on my desk, and I show them to people who raise concerns about them,” Lehner said. “And I say “Exactly which one of these standards do you object to?’ And I have yet to have anyone say ‘This one, on page six. This is a bad standard.’”

And there are plenty of other defenders of the standards. Richard Ross, the Kasich-backed state Superintendent of Public Instruction, is a staunch supporter. So is the Ohio Business Roundtable, whose members include the CEOs of some of Ohio’s largest and most influential companies.

For Herb Asher, who teaches politics and government at Ohio State University, that mix of support bodes well for the Common Core.

“I think the efforts here in Ohio will not be successful to undermine or eliminate,” said Asher. “[but] that’s not to say their couldn’t be some tweaking.”

And indeed, there has been some tweaking.

In the latest round of mid-budget adjustments, state lawmakers strengthened protections to keep students’ test data private. And they’ve prohibited expanding Ohio’s participation in multistate standards collaborations, ensuring that science and social studies standards will be “made in Ohio.”