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Government and Politics

Ohio lawmakers revise a bill to repeal Common Core
The new version extends the timeline to implement new standards and addresses creationism concerns

Andy Chow
Reps. Huffman and Thompson have modified their repeal bill, but not to the satisfaction of Common Core supporters.
Courtesy of ANDY CHOW
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In The Region:
State lawmakers have accepted changes on the repeal of the education standards known as the Common Core. But as Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the revisions are not changing the minds of Common Core supporters.
LISTEN: Revised bill to repeal Common Core gets mixed reviews

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The new version of a bill to repeal the Common Core creates a longer timeline to implement new state standards in five years rather than four. If the proposal passes, then schools would have to follow old standards once used by the state of Massachusetts.

In the meantime, a group would create new, Ohio-based standards to be implemented in 2018.

Republican Rep. Andy Thompson from Marietta, who co-sponsors the bill, says this will give schools districts more time with the Massachusetts standards, which will probably be incorporated into the new set of benchmarks.

“Our concern with Common Core is making sure that we move toward real standards and making sure that we have real accountability. And I think that three-year period will give schools the ability to get used to them. It kind of addresses that concern about kids moving to multiple standards we give them time.”

Not good enough
Lisa Gray with the coalition supporting the Common Core says — speaking from a mother’s perspective — the changes still aren’t good enough.

“That doesn’t make sense to me — to have three sets of standards over a five-year time frame for my children and to expect teachers to be able to align curriculum and find instructional material and find some of the deep understanding of the standards. I simply don’t know how you’re going to do that.”

What about creationism?
The changed bill also clarifies a controversial provision which, according to opponents, opened the door for teaching creationism in the classroom.

The new language specifies that nothing in the academic-content standards is to be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine or belief.

Republican Rep. Matt Huffman of Lima chairs the committee holding hearings on the repeal, which he also co-sponsored. Huffman says he’s the new language should clear up any confusion.

“Now will there still be what I consider ‘fear mongering’ on that issue? Sure. Because you know the folks who are trying to keep something from happening — that’s their tool of choice.”

'A bad bill' for everybody
Republican Rep. Gerald Stebelton of Lancaster is chair of the House Education Committee. His panel held a couple of hearings on a previous measure to repeal the Common Core but it stalled because, as Stebelton explains, it didn’t have enough support.

This time around, the House leaders bypassed the Education Committee and placed the bill in the Rules and Reference Committee, which excludes Stebelton. But Stebelton says he’s watched most of the committee hearings and is still not swayed.

“I’m going to urge the Speaker of the House that nothing has changed to convince me. This bill is a bad bill. It’s bad for school districts, it’s bad for teachers, it’s bad for parents and it’s bad for kids. And so there’s nothing that I’ve heard for the last three weeks that would change my mind about that.”

Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder of Medina sits on the Rules and Reference Committee. There’s still no word on a floor vote according to the speaker, who says he still needs to gauge the opinions of his caucus. But there are no voting sessions scheduled until after the November election.

For now, the committee will take a break and no hearings will be scheduled for next week.

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