COLUMBUS -- Nancy Capps has heard horror stories about the Common Core.
The Portage County retiree told a lawmaker panel Monday that children are stressed out and frustrated over confusing lessons, parents are paying tutors and sending their kids to summer school to help them catch up, and teachers are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution.
"There are kindergarteners not wanting to go to school, a second-grader whose teacher suggested that his parents enroll him in their stress management class because he was so afraid to go to school, children vomiting every day and under a doctor's care, children who think they are dumb and being labeled as having a disability because they can't do math," Capps said. "A friend's neighbor was called at work by her babysitter telling her to come home because her third-grade son was on the floor in a fetal position crying fearing that he would have to repeat third grade...."
Capps was among the people offering testimony Monday in support of legislation that would repeal Common Core standards.
Two state lawmakers, Reps. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, have proposed the newest bill, HB 597, to address continued concerns about the national movement to implement more uniform educational standards in classrooms.
"Is the state of Ohio at this point going to cut the cord between the state of Ohio and the national consortium as it relates to the standards in our K-12 education?" Huffman asked, "The decision to turn our children over to a group of people for 30 hours a week or more is a very personal decision. So when you do that, you want to make sure that you have as much influence as you can...."
Thompson added, "Ohio has a Common Core problem.... We need to base our educational approach on the unique and varying talents and skills of our children. We need high standards and to hold our education system accountable to those high standards. .... 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."
Proponents say Common Core is an effort to ensure every high school graduate has the foundational knowledge needed for college, technical schools or other career paths. They also say local school boards retain control over curriculum, and districts have invested heavily in recent years training teachers and preparing lessons and assessments to meet the new standards.
But opponents say the standards represent an overreach of the federal government and corporate interests into local classrooms, with resulting textbook lessons so convoluted or awkwardly phrased that students and their parents don't understand them.
Thompson earlier introduced a bill to repeal Common Core standards in Ohio, prohibit the state board of education from using assessments based on those standards and block the dissemination of certain student data to the federal government.
But Thompson's initial bill quickly stalled, without enough support from other Republicans in the chamber or the chairman of the education committee.
Late last month Huffman and Thompson introduced HB 597 as placeholder legislation to repeal "to repeal and replace the Common Core initiative academic standards (for math and language arts) and related assessment system."
Huffman, who serves as chairman of the Rules and Reference Committee, opted to play host to hearings on the new repeal effort during lawmakers' summer recess, with no final action expected in the House until after the November general election.
Democrats on the committee voiced concern Monday about the process -- having the hearing before the Rules and Reference Committee instead of the Education Committee, for example. They also questioned the wisdom of changing standards that schools have already implemented and the timing of developing new standards.
"How are we holding ourselves accountable in terms of public trust?" asked House Minority Leader Tracy Heard, D-Columbus. "... We have already invested I'm not sure how many millions of dollars in Common Core."
If enacted, Huffman said the legislation would require new standards to be in place for the 2017 school year. Common Core standards would remain in place for the current school year, with standards formerly used in Massachusetts used during the two school years when new standards are being developed.
Monday was the first of three days of hearings scheduled for this week to give individuals and groups that want to repeal Common Core standards in the state an opportunity to offer testimony. Additional hearings are planned for opponents of the repeal to speak.
About 20 people submitted testimony Monday, including Rose Stechschulte, a third-grade teacher from Fort Jennings in Putnam County, who told lawmakers she is "struggling with how to implement my math program using Common Core standards."
She added, "... There will be little room for review of addition and subtraction facts, as the standards focus heavily on multiplication and division. A very difficult concept for third-graders to grasp is fractions, yet there are many standards dealing with them, which I feel are developmentally inappropriate for third-graders. ... One concerned parent told me they took common sense out of the Common Core standards, and I would have to agree."
Virginia Mack, from Ottawa in Putnam County, added, "I am fighting against Common Core because I can see consequences of the new standards. Eventually our children will have to be taught what is dictated by the U.S. Department of Education. Parents and local school boards will have no control over their child's education and local control will be gone."
Republican Reps. Matt Huffman, from Lima, and Andy Thompson, from Marietta, offer sponsor testimony on HB 597, legislation that would repeal Common Core standards in Ohio, replacing them with new standards to be developed over the next couple of years.
Rose Stechschulte, a third-grade teacher from Fort Jennings in Putnam County, voices support for repealing Common Core standards in Ohio.
Virginia Mack, an Ottawa resident, voices her support for repealing Common Core standards in the state of Ohio.
Stephanie Stechschulte from Fort Jennings voices her support for repealing Common Core standards in Ohio.