Hijacking Ohio’s future: State legislators must reject House Bill 237

State representative Andy Thompson today introduced House Bill 237, which seeks to void the State Board of Education’s June 2010 decision to adopt the Common Core academic standards in English language arts and math. The bill would effectively prevent any Ohio public school from implementing the Common Core, standards that offer a clear description of the skills and knowledge that students should acquire at each grade level to stay on course toward college or gainful employment. The bill has 13 co-sponsors—all Republican—whom it appears have caved into the political charms of tea-party-like interest groups who have vociferously criticized the Common Core standards in the recent months, not on the basis of the standards’ content but on the basis of politics and ideology.

As House Bill 237 is debated in the legislature, members of both parties ought to cut to the chase and judge the Common Core by its merits. And, here are but a few of the Common Core’s merits: In Fordham’s 2010 comparison of the Common Core against Ohio’s outgoing standards, the Common Core was rated superior in both English and math. In another study of the math content of Common Core, William Schmidt of Michigan State University found that the Common Core was closely aligned with the math standards of the highest-performing countries in grades K-8. And, if the members of the legislature want to listen to their own local educational professionals, they should know that two out of three Ohio district superintendents believe that the Common Core will lead to a fundamental improvement in K-12 education.

The Common Core standards are “solid and traditional,” and at the end of the day, they will put Ohio’s students in a position to compete for slots at the nation’s best colleges and for the best careers—not only with their counterparts in other states but with their peers in other nations. Ohio lawmakers need to embrace the Common Core to help all of Ohio’s students succeed regardless of where they come from, whether a rural farm community, a leafy suburb, or an inner city.

Ohio’s legislators must therefore reject House Bill 237. Instead, they should support rather than hijack the rightful decision of the State Board of Education and the continuing efforts of local education leaders who are faithfully implementing the Common Core in their schools.

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