COLUMBUS, Ohio – Don’t shortchange America’s “founding documents,” the state school board was told Tuesday, by trying to axe tests that make sure students learn them.
School board members have been under pressure from across the state to cut how many standardized tests students have to take. Some members have sought to cut any tests not required by the federal government, which would eliminate some math, English and science tests.
It would also wipe out the American History and American Government tests that all high school students must take.
That didn’t sit well with some legislators and activists who fought to require these documents to be taught — and included on state tests — in 2012. That’s when Senate Bill 165, called the “Founding Fathers Act” or the “Founding Documents Act” by some, mandated them.
That means the board can’t cut them on its own, but can only ask the legislature to do so.
Don’t bother, Senate President Larry Obhoff, a Medina Republican, told the board through an aide Tuesday. He said the legislature won’t change the law, regardless of any recommendation from the board.
“I encourage members of Ohio’s education administration to embrace the statute,” Obhoff said through his aide.
Activists who want the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and other key historical documents to be a part of every high school student’s learning asked the board Tuesday to hold off on plans to cut them.
Despite more than 90 minutes of debate, most of which centered on procedural issues with motions and amendments, the board took no action on any tests. It delayed any vote until later this year.
Board members also hope that a joint meeting between board members and legislators can be called to work out a way to cut testing that all would be satisfied with.
State Rep. Andrew Brenner told the board that it makes little sense to cut any math or English tests now because legislators want to see if national ACT exams could replace the state’s current exams. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria told the board that any comparison of ACT scores and those from state tests would not be available by their October meeting, so more discussion will likely be delayed until November.
In addition to hearing Obhof’s desire to maintain the two exams, the board also heard from other residents who want the American History and American Government tests to remain, even if the federal government does not require them.
“These are the ways our founding fathers have communicate their vision to us today,” said Pastor Alfred Davis of the Richfield Bible Baptist Church. “Taking the assessment away, teachers when pressed for time will shorten things down. Things that aren’t on the test will be de-emphasized.”
He joined Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, who told the board that “our nation’s youth are in desperate need of understanding who we are as a representative republic and how our government works.”
The Alliance website had urged people to contact board members to support “saving constitutional studies in Ohio.”
“The intent and need for this curriculum legislation was due to the fact that students had poor knowledge of our American form of government,” Long added.
Beachwood resident Michael Goldstein, the Ohio director of a Jewish advocacy group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, also told the board that it is important to teach students that heritage, including classical Greek and Roman along with Christian and Jewish studies.
See the video above for more of his remarks.