If the Common Core Repeal Bill (HB 597) makes its way out of the House Rules and Reference Committee, look for the Kasich administration to point to reforms included in the Education Mid-Biennium Review Bill (HB 487) as the answer to the public’s Common Core concerns.  In fact, the spin has already started.  A July 31st Cincinnati Enquirer article, “Common Core concerns Gov. Kasich too,” quotes Governor Kasich at an event at which he received an endorsement from the Ohio Restaurant Association, 15497735-mmmain

“I share the concern about loss of local control.  That’s why we took actions in the (mid-biennium budget review) to address some of those.”

The Enquirer states,

“He (Governor Kasich) repeatedly pointed to provisions included in the mid-biennial review he signed in June to increase parental participation in curriculum and increase safeguards for students’ personal information.”

And an August 20th Gongwer report quotes State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross as follows,

“I think that it really needs to be noted that the legislature this last May in (House Bill) 487 really put a lot of guardrails up about some of the concerns I’ve heard about the Common Core and the Ohio learning standards.”

“Citizen committees will look at the curriculum, I think the privacy issue is well within 487 to reinforce that. I think privacy’s a huge issue and I know that Ohio and New Hampshire are probably some of the most protective states on privacy of data.”

Unfortunately for students, placing superficial provisions into legislation is not going to cut it when it comes to fixing Common Core.  The article “Concerned Parents Take Note:  Student Privacy Measures in Education MBR Need Review” explains why privacy provisions included in HB 487 do not make student data more secure.   As for the remainder of HB 487’s Common Core fixes, let’s take a look.

Representative Andrew Brenner provides a chart of HB 487’s Major Provisions on his blog.  Four of the measures deal with academic standards and they are described in Brenner’s chart as follows:

  • ORC 3301.078:  “No official or board shall enter into any agreement or memorandum of understanding with a federal or private entity that requires the state to cede any control of development, adoption or revision of academic content standards.”

This ship has already sailed.  Two private organizations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, developed the Common Core Standards and hold the copyright to them.  Unless Common Core is repealed, the measure has no teeth.

  • ORC 3301.079(A)(1)(a):  “Standards must be clearly written, transparent and understandable by parents, educators and the general public.”

That’s a nice, well-meaning provision, but how it fixes Common Core is anyone’s guess.  The Common Core Standards have already been written and adopted.   And don’t forget, Common Core is copyrighted so states cannot change the standards.

  • ORC 3301.079(1)(c):  “When the state board revises or adopts academic content standards in social studies, American History, American Government or science, the board shall not do so as part of a multi-state consortium.”

The State Board of Education has adopted new learning standards for science and social studies which state education officials and the press have indicated were developed by Ohio.  A look at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) website, however, makes one wonder what connection the new science standards have to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) consortium of which Ohio is a lead state.  Achieve, a non profit which was a major player in the development of Common Core, oversaw the NGSS development process.  The ODE site reads:

“Achieve released April 9, 2013, the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  As a lead state in the national initiative, Ohio will review the document to determine what further action should be taken.  Both the Ohio Department of Education and Achieve advise schools to continue using Ohio’s New Learning Standards to guide curriculum and instruction. Ohio’s Next Generation Assessments in science, beginning in 2014-2015, will continue to be based on Ohio’s New Learning Standards.”  (Emphasis intended.)

We know from this that Achieve is providing advice to Ohio on its science standards and the statement seems to infer that Ohio schools are expecting some sort of change in standards now that the final version of the NGSS is available.

Uncertainty over the origin of the science standards extends even to state leaders.  In a Columbus Dispatch article Representative Matt Huffman questioned the source of both the science and social studies standards.  When the Dispatch asked why HB 597, which Huffman sponsors, would repeal state-developed science and social studies standards, Huffman replied,

“‘I’m not sure they are,’ state-developed.”

“There’s been a suggestion that those aren’t Common Core.   Someone said they are Common Core but they just aren’t calling them that.  They were adopted at the same time in 2011.  It’s unclear…exactly how those were prepared.  It’s unclear whether those are the same kind of standards or not.”

How can meaningful legislation be put in place to address public concerns when so much uncertainty exists over the origin of existing standards?

  • ORC 3301.079:  “Review committees are created for English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies academic content standards.  Each review committee shall include a parent, three subject area experts, a classroom teacher, the Chancellor of the Board of Regents and the State Superintendent for Public Instruction.”

While HB 487 sets up review committees to examine the standards and assessments for each subject area, it’s unclear how the committees will have any power of review over the Common Core standards which are a product of two private organizations that hold a copyright to them.

And since the members of the review committees will be appointed by the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House, the committees will likely be highly political bodies which will carry out the wishes or sanction the actions of the officials who appointed them.  In other words, such committees tend to support the status quo.

It is clear that the provisions inserted into HB 487 to address the public’s concerns over Common Core do not have any meaningful impact.  Ironically, the only way HB 487 could have any real effect is if Common Core is repealed.  Then, Ohio could write its own clear and transparent academic standards without the aid of out-of-state entities and multi-state consortiums and with the input of Ohio parents and teachers.

Ohioans need to keep the pressure up for the full repeal of Common Core.  Don’t be side-tracked by the Kasich administration or establishment Republicans at the Statehouse who may wish to convince you that they have addressed your Common Core concerns with HB 487.