A bill that would halt the use of the Common Core in Ohio won approval from committee and is on its way to a vote from the full House.
The Ohio House Rules and Reference Committee voted true to their party lines on House Bill 597, with all the Republicans voting for the bill and both Democrats voting against it. In the end, the bill passed 7-2.
Bill co-sponsor Andy Thompson said the fight over Common Core is a hot topic in the state, coming up time and time again over the course of his re-election campaign.
However, Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard said with such little support from Republican leaders, she is not sure there are enough votes in the House as a whole to overturn Common Core. The bill needs the support of 50 Republican members of the caucus to make the full House vote.
“If we don’t think we have the votes to pass it, we won’t bring it to the floor,” said Chairman Matt Huffman.
Huffman said if the current bill fails, he believes it will be debated again in the next legislature.
With the election behind him, Thompson said he can now focus his attention on lobbying other House members to support the bill. He added that Common Core supporter and House Education Committee chairman Gerald Stebelton has been working to “undercut” the bill.
“We have not has much of a chance to lobby as people as much as the chairman of the education committee,” Thompson said, promising that there will be a full House vote.
Previous hearings over the summer and fall saw increasing support for Common Core standards from educators, parents and officials and opposition to HB 597.
Three groups released comments about the vote in representation of schools districts and administrators, including the Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
“We are extremely disappointed with the committee’s action today,” said Damon Asbury, OSBA director of legislative services, in the joint press release. “This bill represents a major step backward for Ohio’s students. We urge members of the Ohio House to reject HB 597 should it come to the House floor.”
Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, who sits on the rules committee, said she stood in support of the bill due to how the debate over the standards has weakened the relationship between parents and educators.
“It has become so politicized,” she said. “It prevents an objective look at the standards.”
In addition, she feels the standards require too much testing.
If passed, the bill would require the state to adopt new standards for the 2018-19 school year. Until that time, standards from Massachusetts would be used in place of the Common Core standards.
Each district would still have the option to not use the new standards, and even continue the use of the Common Core standards. Those districts would still need to participate in state testing.