Last updated: August 16. 2014 12:01AM - 560 Views
By Dr. Renée A. Middleton Contributing Columnist

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Ohio House Republicans are seeking in November to pass a bill to repeal the Common Core, an outcome that would have devastating consequences for public education in Ohio.

But first, a brief history: In 2010, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers developed the Common Core, which seeks to improve career and college readiness by introducing rigorous public-education standards in subjects across the board, including math, science and language arts.

The Common Core has been accepted in more than 40 states, including Ohio. It is not a radical policy favored only by the few; rather, it is a refreshingly rational and common-sense approach to improving public education in America – and it hasn’t come easy.

For the last four years, the Ohio Department of Education has worked tirelessly with teachers across the state to help implement the Common Core, which will become effective in the 2014-15 school year. Our future is now, and yet, it is already in jeopardy.

According to many House Republicans, most notably Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman of Lima, the Common Core represents an intrusion of the federal government. Huffman believes that having uniform standards stifles education and fails to take into account the unique needs of various regions. He has called the Common Core a “disaster.”

What Huffman fails to realize, however, is that the Common Core is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to public education. On the contrary, it is a grassroots effort by activists, educators and business leaders to specialize public education, to take control of it, and hold it to a higher standard. Aside from funding, the federal government has had – and will have – little to no involvement in the Common Core. In fact, local school districts – and only local school districts – will decide what and how to teach.

Thankfully, there are House Republicans – such as Governor John Kasich – who support the Common Core for those very reasons. Kasich recognizes the need for higher public-education standards and believes – rightfully so – that the Common Core will achieve them.

As you can see, this is not a Republican/Democrat issue, as Huffman might have you believe, nor is it a philosophical debate about the federal government and its place in public education – or at least it shouldn’t be. No, this is about preparing our children for a better future.

Even worse, if the Common Core is repealed, it is unknown what standards Ohio would adopt as an alternative. This is a two-steps-back approach to education in which no one takes one step forward. We must not let this happen. We cannot let this happen. It is our responsibility to protect students from substandard educational programming.

I understand that public-education reform has become a frustrating issue for many people; they are weary of its initiatives and skeptical of its promises. But we cannot give up on education. When we give up on education, we give up on our children, our future, and our country.

The Common Core has the backing of Kasich, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, and the Southeast Ohio Teacher Development Collaborative, among other organizations. That support will not waver.

Thus, if Huffman and other House Republicans wish to politicize, I urge them to choose another pulpit – preferably one that won’t put Ohio public education behind the 8-ball.

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