I do not support mandated universal standards. As someone who strongly supports local authority, liberty and freedom of individuals, the arguments for mandated, universal standards fall short.
In light of this, I have gathered some of the most common questions about the proposed standards under HB 176 and hope you leave feeling like you have gained a new or deeper perspective on the intended use of universal standards. Let's first focus on:
What "exactly" does the bill say about state standards?
Why support a bill that has Ohio adopting state standards?
What is so fantastic about Massachusetts Pre-Common Core Standards?
What are the Massachusetts Pre-Common Core Standards?
Starting with what House Bill 176 says about the standards. From the Analysis provided by Legislative Services:
The analysis says that the State Board of Education is prohibited from adopting standards that were created in any similar fashion to that of the Common Core standards. However, it goes on to say that the academic content standards are to be replaced with standards that are "consistent with the standards adopted by Massachusetts prior to the adoption of the Common Core Standards". The insightful nature of this bill is evident in the next bullet point from the analysis: "A school district is not required to utilize all of any part of the academic content standards adopted by the State Board."
If the school districts are not required to adopt the state standards, why then, would I support a bill that has Ohio adopting state standards? I support state standards because we all need a role model in our lives. Sometimes we can strike out on our own and successfully conquer the world! Other times, we could use a role model to look up to and to use as the gold standard in which we measure our own lives. If House Bill 176 becomes law, then school districts will need to look at what they are currently doing and make a decision in regards to their curriculum. This is an exciting opportunity, but mentorship in the adoption of standards may be needed.
This "mentor" or "roll model" in our example is the Massachusetts state standards. Prior to the adoption of common core, they had positioned Massachusetts into the top academic ranking in the nation. However, like with any crucial part of our educational system, I encourage you to look at the standards. With 14 years of teaching experience in a variety of middle school and high school science courses, I was curious how the science standards were structured. I have read through the science standards, and feel they are very complete. They are linked below.
I predict that most schools will maintain their current curricular maps for a year to review what the recommended standards entail, along with other ideas brought to the local boards of education. Some schools may decide to switch over entirely to the Massachusetts standards, some will incorporate portions of the recommended standards, some will use something different, and others may continue with their current standards at this time. As schools begin to hone in on what works best for their kids, other districts may feel emboldened to try something new. The big difference this time around is: this something new is driven by the community members, local school board, and educators!
The act of the State Board of Education adopting a set of standards is, at this time, conforming with federal law. However, even if the federal law did not require states to have established statewide curricula, it is still a good idea. If a school district is looking to change what they are doing because they desire a positive change, then they will have exemplary standards to guide them.
I have touched on all of the questions we started with, but there has been a vocalized concern on one more aspect. If school districts are permitted to choose their own standards, then what stops them from omitting entire concepts because of a community belief system, misinformation or other reason? How do we ensure that our districts are educating our young people to be well-rounded citizens that have a deep appreciation for their world, life, and liberty? We will have to TRUST our citizens to elect local school board members who represent the value system of the community, their passion for truth in knowledge, their appreciation for the arts and literature and the understanding of RIGHT and WRONG. The time for local control and variety in how we choose to educate our children is going to become a reality, a beautiful, liberty-full, citizen building, teacher restoring reality.
In my classes, I love teaching students about natural selection and how nature works well with genetic diversity to allow life to continue to flourish, even as environmental conditions may change. When a species becomes too genetically homogeneous, it struggles to stay ahead of predators and parasites. Our educational system is similar in this way. If we provide the means for districts to expand the learning diversity, then Ohio will be well situated to thrive in a diverse social and economic environment. When we accomplish this, there is no limit to the success we will experience as the great state of Ohio.
What can you do to help House Bill 176 move forward? Please take a few moments and familiarize yourself with the bill, and then contact your Ohio State Representative and share your support of HB 176 and ask them to do the same. Thank you!
Below are links to the analysis of HB176, the Ohio Statehouse to locate your legislator's contact information, and links to the Massachusetts state standards prior to Common Core. I also linked to my discussion on Teacher Evaluations now, and under HB176 for your reference.
We can do this! We can be the change! Please join me and lets #passHB176
Link for the Analysis of the bill:
How to identify and contact your state representative:
Link to the full HB 176
What do Teacher Evaluations look like now? What would they look like under HB176