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Education


Some Ohio legislators are making a long-shot move to repeal Common Core
But the standards are likely to remain -- at least through the end of the year
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Rep. Gerald Stebelton says the standards are staying while he's around -- but he's gone at the end of this year.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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In The Region:

A rarely successful move to force a vote on controversial legislation is being tried on an Ohio bill that brings up strong feelings on all sides – especially among Republicans. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports a “discharge petition” has been pulled on a bill to repeal the Common Core in Ohio.

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A discharge petition seeks to force a floor vote on legislation that’s stuck in committee. More than half of the Ohio House must sign the petition to force the bill to a vote.

Democrats tried it last year with Gov. John Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion, which they supported but many Republicans opposed. And in the last few weeks, discharge petitions have been pulled to force votes on a bill that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and on a repeal of the Common Core standards.

The Common Core discharge attempt springs from the firm stance taken by Republican Gerald Stebelton of Lancaster against the repeal of the standards.  He’s held one hearing, and says that will be it.

“Listen, the Common Core is not going to go away in Ohio. As long as I’m the chairman of the House Education Committee, we’re going to have Common Core.”

But Stebelton won’t be there much longer
Stebelton is term-limited and leaves at the end of this year. The sponsor of the repeal, Republican Andy Thompson of Marietta, has said he’ll continue to fight against Common Core next year.

But for now, the discharge petition is circulating. And meanwhile, about a hundred Common Core opponents met for a more common Statehouse activity – a rally, led by led by Heidi Huber, founder of Ohioans Against Common Core.

“The standards are the nucleus for everything else. If you control the standards, you control the assessment, you control the curriculum; therefore you control the classroom. And that is how we’ve gotten to where we – the feds are controlling our classrooms.”

Misinformation and conspiracies
A few quiet supporters of the standards were also on the scene.  Lisa Gray is the project director of the Ohio Standards Coalition. That’s a group of some 40 organizations that back the Common Core, including the state’s two teachers’ unions, the Ohio School Boards Association and other educator groups. 

“There’s a lot of misinformation, conspiracy theories, lots of inaccuracies out there. These standards were developed by the states, adopted by the state – this is not a federally developed set of standards, as they sometimes allege.”

But Gray admits that there are serious concerns about the implementation of the Common Core and how it’s affecting kids, some of whom have reported frustrations with new ways of teaching in math in particular. 

Confusion and understanding
“It’s been a challenge. It’s been a challenge for teachers, and it’s been a challenge for students, and I think it’s been a challenge for parents who didn’t learn this way. And so this is really about helping kids dig deeper, have a much deeper understanding.”

But for Common Core opponents like Huber, the only acceptable solution is a total repeal with a new set of standards determined at the state level with local control. 

“It has to go back to the legislative body, for the legislative process – which is where the people have a voice. … Key to any reform that is done on Common Core is the state Legislature, because they are your firewall to the federal government. That is their role.”

But without the discharge petition, it’s very unlikely that would happen. And it’s also considered unlikely that the discharge petition would succeed. It needs 50 signatures to proceed, and minority Democrats and many Republicans support the Common Core standards.

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