New legislation to repeal Common Core in Ohio and replace the national framework with state standards was introduced today by Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta).
“The role of the federal government in education should be minimal,” Thompson told reporters at a Statehouse presser for the proposal, House Bill 597 (HB 597). “This one-size-fits-all, top-down approach has not worked in the past, and is not likely to work in the future.”
Thompson, who has led efforts in the Ohio House of Representatives to drop Common Core, described the bill as “a clean sweep,” removing any vestige of Common Core in the state. He emphasized the need for truly state-level standards instead of those supplied by the national Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Thompson and Huffman are drafting HB 597 for hearings starting August 12. Ohioans Against Common Core endorsed the plan in a press release.
Bemoaning the lack of consideration Thompson’s previous Common Core repeal proposal House Bill 237 (HB 237) has received in the House Education Committee, Rep. Huffman explained that HB 597 will be taken up by the Rules and Reference Committee.
Huffman stopped short of openly criticizing Rep. Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster), the Education Committee chair who has slammed “the misinformation being spread by Glen [sic] Beck and other naysayers” asking for HB 237 to receive a vote.
In southwestern Ohio, Tom Brinkman unseated an incumbent Republican in this May’s primary due largely to the incumbent’s tacit support for Common Core. After the election, Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) admitted that the Republican-dominated Ohio House should have addressed Common Core earlier.
At least 6 Ohio counties’ Republican Party executive committees have adopted a 2013 Republican National Committee resolution against Common Core; the Ohio Republican Party has no statewide platform.
Ohioans Against Common Core has held multiple Statehouse events attended by hundreds of concerned parents, teachers, and taxpayers. Heidi Huber, the group’s leader, participated in Glenn Beck’s national “We Will Not Conform” event, which aired in 30 Ohio theaters, last week.
Rep. Huffman told reporters today that he began discussing Common Core in depth with Rep. Thompson “in the last 6-8 weeks because it’s when I personally have had time to deal with it.”
With the blessing of Huffman and Batchelder, HB 597 seems likely to pass in the Ohio House. Republican Governor John Kasich, however, has expressed continued support for Common Core.
Rep. Huffman noted that he had spoken with Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), but gave no indication of whether Sen. Faber expected his caucus — also a Republican supermajority — to support the bill.
True to form, members of the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association were critical of efforts to limit the federal government’s power, expressing skepticism about dropping Common Core after years of preparation.
“I’m not gonna not do my job because somebody else did theirs poorly,” Huffman said. “We can’t just watch as the ship smashes into the rocks.”
Asked whether HB 597 will allow for easy state-to-state performance comparisons and transitions for families moving to new school districts, Huffman disputed the notion that uniformity should be policymakers’ primary goal and opined that a system built for uniformity puts central planners before students.
Questioned on conservative influence over Common Core repeal efforts, Thompson lauded anti-Common Core activists for “keeping it on the front burner,” adding that “the rest of the world is catching up” to concerns Ohioans Against Common Core and others have long been broadcasting.
Rep. Thompson and Ohio House Assistant Majority Floor Leader John Adams (R-Sidney) had been collecting signatures on a discharge petition to force a floor vote on HB 237. Critics of HB 237 have complained that the bill contains no replacement standards.
Because HB 597 would both repeal and replace Common Core, Common Core supporters in both parties will likely try to maintain Ohio’s participation in the national program by emphasizing potential flaws in whatever new standards are suggested.
Rep. Huffman said he expects a House vote on the completed legislation after the general election.
[Editor’s note, 07/29/2014: Added 9th paragraph for additional background on pressure applied by anti-Common Core activists.]