Whitehall News

Hamler, WEA oppose legislator's effort to repeal new Common Core standards

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With the rollout of Ohio's new Common Core standards, a Marietta lawmaker is looking to repeal the curriculum.

Whitehall City Schools Superintendent Brian Hamler and Whitehall Education Association president Alisha Wilson agree such action could prove disastrous.

State Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) introduced House Bill 237 in July to repeal the State Board of Education's June 2010 decision to adopt the Common Core academic standards in both language arts and math. The bill would halt Ohio public schools from further implementing Common Core and apply new academic content standards only after receiving public input and holding public hearings.

The bill also forbids any outside control when it comes to Ohio's education.

"The State Board of Education is the sole authority for adopting academic content standards for the state's public schools and shall adopt academic content standards of its own choosing," House Bill 237 states. "No official of this state, whether appointed or elected, shall join on behalf of the state or a state agency any consortium, association or other entity when such membership would require the state to cede any measure of control over education, including academic content standards and assessments of such standards."

The bill has 13 co-sponsors.

Hamler said H.B. 237 is not good for staff or students.

"First, it doesn't offer an alternative, so if there is opposition, what is the recommendation?" Hamler asked. "Second, the Common Core standards are designed to prepare students to be college or career ready, which is the goal of this state and reflects our children,s assessments.

"Lastly, we have invested a great deal of money over the past four years in the state of Ohio, preparing for the new standards, and to pull the plug on it now because we believe it is politically driven doesn't make good sense to me."

Whitehall's local representative, Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick), attended the school board meeting this month to give those in attendance a heads-up about the bill. She is on the state's education committee.

Wilson, a teacher at Rosemore Middle School and the WEA president, said she also has reservations about a repeal.

"Every time there is a shift in our curriculum, it is a considerable undertaking for us as educators," she said. "The transition to Common Core, despite the best of plans, has not only been extremely time-consuming but (also) has many of us very uneasy about the new evaluation system."

Though she isn't aware of any teacher polls regarding H.B. 237, she said, she is convinced she's not alone in her opinion.

"It is our job to not only get our kids ready for high-stakes testing, (but these tests also) will ultimately impact our personal evaluations," she said. "While we are in this transition period, most teachers are being asked to teach content from both the Common Core to prepare upcoming grades and are also having to cover content because the new tests will not be in place for some time.

"I would gladly welcome anyone wanting to make yet another blaring change to our curriculum to come to our classrooms and walk a day in our shoes to see what is entailed."

Thompson, who proposed the bill, said he feels strongly that Common Core is wrong for students and staff on many levels.

"Despite what its proponents claim, the formulation and propagation of Common Core standards was not a state-led initiative but rather was the creation of external special interests in Washington and was funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," he stated in the Ohio Conservative Review, a Web-based platform for conservative beliefs. "Proponents of the Common Core say that the states and school boards still will have the flexibility in determining curriculum. This, however, is questionable at best. ... By essentially nationalizing standards, the ability for parents, teachers and local school boards to control academic content and testing is ceded to groups based in a far away capital."

He said he also questions its content.

"Instead of making our children 'college ready' and raising education standards throughout the nation, Common Core enshrines mediocrity and views our children as robots to be programmed for the nation's economic welfare, not as human beings to be educated," he stated.

The bill still is in committee.

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