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Common Core opponents gather at Ohio Statehouse
While opposition hangs on, change in Ohio policy is unlikely
Story by BILL RICE

Ohioans gather at the Statehouse atrium for an anti-Common Core rally.
Courtesy of Bill Rice
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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. StateImpact Ohio's Bill Rice reports that, in Ohio, the Common Core remains fairly secure. But the campaign against it is as passionate as ever.


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Brad McQueen, a fifth-grade public school teacher from Tucson, Ariz., 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 says those 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 says. “'Finland outperforms us,' they say. 'China outperforms us.' 'Singapore outperforms us.' I say: 'Let them be the championship test takers.  Let ‘em! Our kids are too busy changing the world!'”

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

Maintaining Local Control
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 says.  “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 do not seem to be catching fire in Ohio, at least not with Republican Gov. 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 Stebelton, 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.

Standing with the core
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 says. “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.’”

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,” says Asher. But "that’s not to say there 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 have prohibited expanding Ohio’s participation in multi-state standards collaborations, ensuring that science and social studies standards will be “made in Ohio.”

Listener Comments:

I agree! States should have control we all grew up just fine on the facts relinquish control at the federal level, Health care is enough give us back our freedoms.

Posted by: Brian L. (Ohio) on June 14, 2014 1:06AM
I cannot believe what I am reading! I've read and seen these standards and all that come with it. That's why I along with other parents are going to begin lighting brush fires throughout ohio and if these law makers continue to support this then we will put our support behind they're opponents who stand against it and if it becomes adopted then I will relocate my family to virginia or texas. I will not put my grand kids through this

Posted by: Paige on June 13, 2014 3:06AM
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