Earlier this summer, I attended a bill signing of the Governor’s Mid-term Education bill, House Bill 487, which Governor Kasich signed ceremoniously at Buckeye Girls State at the Mount Union Campus in Alliance, Ohio. I had the privilege of sponsoring the bill. The bill itself dealt with many aspects of education including dual enrollment for students going to high school and receiving college credit at the same time. In the process of writing the bill I, along with my colleagues, added several measures in order to regain control of our education system. In fact we added a lot of provisions which will stop data mining, and return curriculum control back to local schools.

Below are a few provisions in the bill. The section of code as well as the page of the bill is listed after each bullet point.

  • 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. (3301.07, page 12)

  • Standards must be clearly written, transparent and understandable by parents, educators and the general public. ((3301.079 A (1) (a) (v), page 13))

  • The state board shall establish standards to provide strict safeguards to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable student data. ((Sec. 3301.0714 (A) (5), page 36))

  • The sole purpose for data collected during testing shall be for measuring and improving the academic progress and needs of students, educators, school districts, and schools. The following information shall not be collected, tracked or reported to any entity including state or federal government during testing: student’s or a student’s family’s social security numbers, religious affiliation, political party affiliation, voting history, or biometric information. (3301.947, page 50)

  • No student names or addresses shall be shared with a multi-state assessment consortium. (3301.948, page 50-51)

  • Each school district’s local board of education shall be the sole authority with regard to selection of textbook and instructional materials and curriculum. ((3313.21 (A), page 90-91))

  • Each school district shall provide an opportunity for parents to review the selection of textbooks and reading lists, instructional materials, and the academic curriculum used by schools in the district. The board shall establish a parental advisory committee or other method of review for academic curriculum and instructional materials. (3313.212, page 91)

  • Non-charter, nonpublic school students and students educated at home shall not be required to take state assessments. (3301.0712 (F) (1), page 35)

The bill also reduced the number of end course exams to seven, from the ten originally mandated by the Ohio Department of Education. It also creates four pathways to a high school diploma some of which do not require all of the end course exams. While the bill didn’t eliminate Common Core, it is one step in the right direction especially given all of the push back from the state school board and state superintendent. They of course are now on board with the current changes and even Governor Kasich mentioned at the formal bill signing that we need to pay close attention to student testing. I’m glad he is seeing the light.

That being said I have wondered what all of those who are upset at Common Core are doing to stop the federal government from using financial incentives, which often intrude into state education policy. Parents, students and teachers and anti-Common Core activists have clearly contacted the statehouses, but I have yet to see any of them go after our congressmen and senators and ask them what they are doing in order to get the federal government out of education policy and return it to the states.

Common Core was started through the National Governor’s Association beginning back in 2009. It was adopted by most states in June of 2010 and thousands of school districts throughout the country adopted Common Core in order to receive Race to the Top Money. Most of the Race to the Top money has already been spent, so there is nothing holding the states and local school districts into keeping it, other than the billions spent on implementing it. Although participation in Race to the Top was voluntary at the state and district level the perception is that the Federal Government is controlling education policy. I would think Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or some U.S. Congressman would write a bill which would return education policy back to the states, yet I don’t see one senator or congressman even suggesting it.

Perhaps the best way for the states to regain complete control of education policy is if federal funding for education is distributed to states through a block grant and then abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Even if they can’t eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, let the states and local schools use the money the way they see fit, without federal strings telling them how and when to spend the money. Until this happens, there will always be a version of “Common Core.”

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