To the Editor:
Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives are seeking to pass a bill to repeal the Common Core State Standards in November, an outcome that would have devastating consequences for public education in the state.
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 commonsense approach to improving public education in America—and it hasn’t come easy.
For the last four years, Ohio’s department of education has worked tirelessly with teachers across the state to help implement the common core, which becomes 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, the common core represents an intrusion of the federal government. Mr. 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 Mr. 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 hold public education 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 Republicans, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who support the common core for those very reasons.
This is not a Republican-vs.-Democrat issue, 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.
If the common core is repealed, it is unknown what standards Ohio would adopt as an alternative.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 not only of Gov. Kasich, but also of the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Southeast Ohio Teacher Development Collaborative, among other organizations. That support will not waver. Thus, if Mr. Huffman and other House Republicans wish to politicize something, I urge them to choose another issue.
Renée A. Middleton
Dean, Gladys W. & David H. Patton College of Education
A version of this article appeared in the August 20, 2014 edition of Education Week as Dean: Common-Core Repeal Would Hurt Ohio Education