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article imageOhio: Common Core repeal bill gets second hearing Special

By Nate Smith     Nov 21, 2013 in Politics
Members of the Ohio House of Representatives’ Committee on Education pored over hours’ worth of written and oral testimony, mostly from opponents to the national standards known as Common Core.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bill that would exclude Ohio from impending national education standards received a second hearing Wednesday before a gallery of vocal critics that filled a hearing and overflow rooms at the statehouse.
Members of the Ohio House of Representatives’ Committee on Education pored over hours’ worth of written and oral testimony, mostly from opponents to the national standards known as Common Core, asserting the most recent federal directives on education are both substandard and too intrusive to students’ personal information.
Nine states and the District of Columbia have combined over two years to receive $4.35 billion in Race to the Top federal grant funds. Ohio’s allocation was about $400 million.
Participation in forthcoming national educational standards was contingent upon receiving Race to the Top funds two years ago and some of the uncertainty about House Bill 237 includes whether or not Ohio would have to pay back that money.
“A small price to pay when you’re talking about kids’ futures,” said Jim Burkholder, a Lakeview resident who organized a local caravan of Common Core opponents to attend Wednesday’s testimony in Columbus.
Mr. Burkholder helps organize the local Top of Ohio Patriots 9-12 group and is a long-time member of a Christian school board in Lima. According to written testimony he submitted to the committee, part of his concern is the impact on Christian education.
“It is clear to me ... that unless the Christian schools and the home schools choose to use the Common Core plan, their students will not be able to get into secondary schools because of low test scores,” he wrote. “He who controls the test, controls the minds of Ohio’s children.”
The bill, introduced by Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, would prohibit the Ohio State School Board from adopting Common Core standards in English and math, and reject all assessments related to Common Core standards.
Two other related house bills dealing with student privacy and standardized tests are also currently circulating through the education committee.
Members heard testimony in opposition to Common Core from school board members, teachers, college professors, concerned parents and even a 12-year-old boy who said he’s always loved mathematics, but new instructional methods through Common Core have made it difficult to learn.
“They make us show our work side-to-side and I’ve always worked up and down,” Thomas Hunter of Worthington said in his testimony before the committee, describing some of the ways new math instruction have impacted his appreciation for the subject.
Data collection is a huge concern for Common Core opponents as well.
Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based American Principles Project, discussed the Department of Education’s intention to collect mass amounts of student data.
Data collection supporters believe it will help refine education and identify correlation between a students’ upbringings and school district to what kind of adults they’ll be and jobs they’ll have.
More than one parent and school board member voiced concern about that kind of student database and handing over that level of student information to the federal education department.
Hundreds of supporters of Rep. Thompson’s bill to repeal Common Core packed hallways outside the hearing room for hours ahead of the hearing, many shouting and heckling the announcement that not everyone would be permitted into the hearing room because of lack of space.
Hearings on House Bill 287 will continue, and a vote will be conducted to move the legislation out of committee and before the entire House of Representatives.
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