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Just in Time for Back to School: a Common Core Controversy in Ohio

IMAGE: A bill was introduced in the Ohio house Thursday that would void the state Board of Educationís adoption of Common Core, a new set of standards for what students should know and be able to do in math and English. Image: Common Core logo.
IMAGE: A bill was introduced in the Ohio house Thursday that would void the state Board of Educationís adoption of Common Core, a new set of standards for what students should know and be able to do in math and English. Image: Common Core logo.
August 2, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As students prepare to head back to class, a fight is brewing over Common Core standards in Ohio's schools.

A bill was introduced in the Ohio House Thursday that would void the state Board of Education's adoption of Common Core, a new set of standards for what students should know and be able to do in math and English.

While opponents claim the standards are too rigorous and untested, John Charlton, associate director of communications at the Ohio Department of Education, says that's not the case.

"There's less standards, there's fewer standards,” he explains. “But it allows teachers to go more in-depth and it encourages critical thinking as well and those are skills that employers want from the workforce in Ohio."

Besides repealing the standards, House Bill 237 would also prohibit the state Board of Education from using assessments based on the standards, and it would outlaw data collecting on students except for limited administrative purposes.

Ohio is using federal Race to the Top dollars to implement the standards, and districts are required to begin teaching a Common Core curriculum this fall.

State Rep. Andrew Thompson of Marietta introduced the bill. He says he's heard from Ohioans voicing a variety of concerns about the standards, including worries the federal government will take away educational control from state and local entities.

"It raises concerns about the costs of this program,” he says, “whether the standards themselves are actually better standards or whether they are inferior standards and whether this about a race to the top or a race to the middle or mediocrity."

Charlton says Common Core State Standards allow teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts and procedures well and give students the opportunity to master them.

He says the standards will help Ohio's children to become more successful and the state more competitive.

"The statistics have proven that Ohio needs to do a better job of preparing their students,” he adds. “We're not where we need to be, we're not up to where we've been in the past and we want to kind of raise that bar."

Charlton also points out that it's up to districts to chose their curriculum, not the state or federal government.

Ohio is one of 45 states that have fully adopted the Common Core.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH