Estrop to testify against Common Core repeal

Still wants application of new standards to be slowed.

Estrop is expected to testify before the Ohio House of Representatives Rules and Reference committee at 9 o’clock this morning. He’ll speak out against HB 597, which would repeal new school standards in English and Math for Ohio students and replace it with those used in Massachusetts.

Common Core standards specify which skills Ohio students are expected to have mastered in each grade and are widely considered to be more challenging than Ohio’s existing standards.

The standards were approved by the state school board in 2010, and schools have been revamping curriculum and training teachers for the past four years. Full implementation is taking effect this year, along with new state tests designed to better measure learning.

Last December, Estrop began asking state officials to consider slowing down the implementation process, rather than eliminate it all together. He’s met with several people at the Ohio Department of Education about the issue, including Dr. Richard Ross, Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction.

“Our message has remained consistent: The higher standards are needed and appropriate, but let’s implement them gradually, not overnight,” Estrop said.

Estrop couldn’t estimate how much money has been spent on preparing the district for Common Core standards, but said they spent at least $1 million on the reading/language arts series and almost $1 million on a new math series. They’ve also spent money on professional development and computer software, Estrop said.

“I can confidently say we’re talking (about) multiple millions of dollars, that not just Springfield, but other school districts have invested,” Estrop said.

State representatives Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) and Bob Hackett (R-London) both oppose the legislation, according to Estrop’s written testimony that’s expected to be presented today.

At last week’s city commission meeting, Commissioner Dan Martin asked city manager Jim Bodenmiller and other commissioners to watch the legislation closely in case any type of resolution needs to be made on the issue.

HB 597 would require three new sets of standards over the next four years, according to Estrop’s testimony.

“If that isn’t a prescription for a train wreck in our business, I don’t know what is,” Estrop said.

He compared the bill to planning to trip to Chicago, then re-routing to Las Vegas and then to New York City.

“In the process of this trip we will have wasted a ton of money, time, energy and undoubtedly we will all be very frustrated and will have had our progress slowed, no matter what our destination,” Estrop wrote.

Several proponents of the bill testified last week in front of the committee, including State Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, the bill’s co-sponsor. The bill will remove the federal government’s handle on Ohio’s education system and “restore some sanity” in the assessment process, according to Huffman’s written testimony. The rush to the Common Core, Huffman writes, was driven by states’ desire to acquire Race to the Top grant funding.

“Ultimately, Ohio must be in charge of that process, not merely a bystander in a national consortium that makes state and local control a meaningless concept,” Huffman wrote. “HB 597 gives us that opportunity.”

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