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Six years after ranking fifth in the nation, Ohio’s public education system has fallen to 23rd. The annual Quality Counts report by Education Week includes indicators such as test scores, education finance, and graduation rates to determine a score out of 100. The best state in each category receives 100, and all other states are graded relative to that state. Ohio received a score of 74.9, a C.
What is most interesting about this drastic decline is the year Ohio was ranked fifth, 2010, is the same year the state went on to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Furthermore, five of the eight states that have either rejected or not fully implemented Common Core scored above Ohio in the 2016 report. Two of those states, Minnesota and Virginia, are in the top 12. This simple fact suggests the education systems in nonconforming states outperform those who have been plagued by federal influence.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative began when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve Inc. all teamed up to push for nationally uniform education standards in 2007. These groups labeled students as “human capital” rather than valued individuals, and their end goal is high test scores rather than learning. The standards use international benchmarks to determine where American students should be in the subjects of English and mathematics to compete globally. They were published in 2009, and by 2010 the federal government had gone so far as to exploit cash-strapped states by linking funding with the adoption of Common Core through the Race to the Top grant program while maintaining the claim that states’ freedom is intact.
Special interest groups – see textbook producers and standardized test developers – are strong proponents of the standards. These groups use their power and money to effectively bypass state autonomy in an effort to gain more power and money. Just this week, a video emerged with a senior Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt sales executive saying, “it’s all about the money”. Parents, teachers, and students – those most affected by the education system – oppose Common Core. In fact, a Columbus Dispatch poll found that 42% of Ohio voters do not want the standards in their state, with a mere 26% in favor of them.
Americans across the country need to join movements, like Ohio United Against Common Core, to advocate for both state autonomy and parental rights within their education systems. These groups campaign for state-level repeals of the standards. Education is a personal matter, and individuals should have the freedom to decide the details of their children’s schooling. Stop letting Washington dictate how and what our children learn. Common Core began as an application of evidence-based research into education. Well new evidence is in, and Common Core is out.