by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jim Stergios of the Massachusetts-based Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research examines various states’ plans for disentangling themselves from Common Core.
Indiana’s repeal and replace bill showed how not to extricate a state from the Core. Governor Pence demonstrated little interest in policy or in educational quality; nor did he evince a clear vision of truly public process. The truncated effort to develop new “Indiana” standards led to an inside job led by proponents of the Core, it started with the Core as a foundational document, and it ended up with a product even worse than the Core, as Stotsky among others clearly demonstrated.
Oklahoma and South Carolina have taken a different path, and they are trying to build new state-led standards with real public processes. Oklahoma had the benefit of state standards that were in fact of higher quality than the Core. They are therefore going back to the drawing board and using the Oklahoma standards as a foundation stone. South Carolina has the benefit of very strong US History standards, but do not have strong ELA and math standards to draft off of.
That’s where Ohio comes in. Learning from Indiana’s disastrous effort and the good efforts in Oklahoma and South Carolina, Ohio’s HB597 is a huge step forward in that it not only rejects Common Core’s mediocre offerings, but it provides on an interim basis Massachusetts’ nation-leading standards as the new foundation to draft off of in developing new Ohio standards. The Massachusetts’ standards go into place for two years as Ohio educators, businesses, scholars and parents put their heads together in a truly public process—and develop, we hope, even better standards than what Massachusetts had.
And there are several points to be made in favor of states quickly adopting the MA standards for a two-year interim period while developing their own first-rate standards.
First, two years is ample time to engage local communities and constituencies in the kind of public process that upholds the public trust and also can gain the level of teacher buy-in that will help make new standards effective guidance. No such buy-in is possible with Common Core because of its lack of a public process.
Second, the interim adoption of the Massachusetts standards is a cost-effective exit strategy for Ohio and other states.
This idea might interest those who will be charged with coming up with better standards for North Carolina schools.