Capital News: Lots of testimony on Common Core, and potentially lots more to come

by MARC KOVAC RPC CAPITAL BUREAU Published:

Columbus — For those of you keeping track of such things, we’ve had six hearings to date on new legislation to repeal Common Core standards in Ohio’s schools.
That’s in addition to a couple of others on the issue on a separate bill before a separate lawmaker panel.
Scroll down through the Ohio House’s Ways and Means Committees website (online at www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/rules-and-reference) and you will find testimony from dozens and dozens and dozens of people who support, oppose or have some level of interest in Common Core.
Some of it, from both sides of the issue, is a little kooky.
A lot of it, again from both sides of the issue, is compelling.
At this point, much of it, from both sides of the issue, is repetitive.
Proponents keep saying Common Core offers the rigorous standards needed to prepare our youth for future college studies and careers, curriculum decisions remain at the local level, and schools have already invested millions of dollars in to implement the standards.
Opponents keep saying the standards are dumbed down and result in lessons and homework that don’t make sense, represent an overreach of the federal government and corporate interests into public school classrooms, the costs will ultimately outweigh the benefits, and parents were largely uninvolved in developing the standards that are now in place in Ohio classrooms.
Both sides have plenty of arguments and evidence why the other side is wrong.
Therein lies the problem — a lot of smart people have stood before the House’s Rules and Reference Committee and offered lots of evidence to support their positions.
That’s surely overwhelming for the lawmakers involved and doesn’t present a very quick or easy path to passage of the legislation being considered.
“There were brilliant people on both sides of this who are diametrically opposed, and how could that be?” Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), the chairman of the House Rules and Reference Committee and primary co-sponsor of the Common Core repeal bill, told reporters after the last hearing.
Huffman and Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) first announced in July their intentions to introduce a new Common Core repeal bill and a schedule to move that legislation through the Rules and Reference committee before lawmakers return to session in November.
The process seemed a little more clear cut at the time — six or so hearings, amendments as needed and a bill passed by the committee in September.
There’s more uncertainty about the ultimate outcome now. Even Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina), who sits on the Rules and Reference Committee, wouldn’t commit to a floor vote on the bill, saying the topic hadn’t been thoroughly discussed by the majority caucus. And the Senate isn’t publicly champing at the bit to take up the issue during the coming lame duck session.
There’s also more talk about several review committees created as part of the mid-biennium budget process earlier this year, with indications that those panels could take up the Common Core issue and dig even deeper into the standards.
“The testimony I would like to hear is an analysis by someone who wrote these standards ... ‘Here’s an example of what we’re trying to do,’ and have someone who’s against the standards come in and say, ‘And here’s why that won’t work,’” Huffman said last week. “We’ve sort of had that as a patchwork over the past three weeks, but those are the things that I guess I’m concerned about.”
Where does that leave us?
It sure sounds like the coming weeks and months could be heavy on additional testimony and light on final legislative action.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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