Streetsboro received a visit Feb. 27 from Ohio School Board member Sarah Fowler, a 25-year-old from Rock Creek who represents Streetsboro and much of Northeast Ohio.
Fowler shared her background as a home-schooled student and explained how she wound up on the Ohio School Board.
She said she's a supporter of home schooling, private schooling, parochial schools and e-schools.
"I ran for the seat because the only person who had filed petitions was only adamantly for brick and mortar public schools," she said, explaining all those other types of schools and students deserve to be represented, as well.
Although she's now in an elected office, Fowler said she didn't plan to be politician.
"I did not like politics, and I still don't," she said. "I'm grateful that it's a non-partisan race."
While Fowler described her job and duties, attendees at the town hall meeting, which took place at Camelot Village's Community Center, had a lot of questions about the Common Core Standards, which the state and district have adopted.
Fowler said adopting the Common Core standards was, in effect, a requirement for states that wanted to be eligible for federal Race to the Top grants.
"The standards were created by private organizations," she said. The government was more involved in the implementation."
Fowler also said the state of Ohio adopted the Common Core Standards before the final version was created to meet a Race to the Top deadline.
"You had to sign on to it before you saw it," she said. "Ohio actually agreed to it … during the second draft."
Parent René Fifik said she is not a fan of Common Core math, which she said she and her daughter struggle with regularly.
She said students have to break down math problems by drawing boxes to represent 10s and ones to show their work, which she said seems more complicated than solving math problems with the "stack" method, which most adults learned in school.
"I run a successful travel agency in town, half a million dollars a year in sales, out of my home and I can't figure it out," she said. "That's ridiculous."
Streetsboro Director of Curriculum Aireane Curtis said one place parents can go is pta.org for more information about how to help their children with Common Core teaching methods. She also said she, the teachers and principals are constantly combing online resources for helpful guides to the Common Core and that parents should reach out to teachers and administrators for help if they are struggling with new teaching methods.
"The biggest difference between when you and I were going to school and now is they're having them explaining their thinking and how it works," she said, adding that in the past, students were simply given formulas for solving problems, but now they must also be able to explain why a given formula works.
Fowler said dialing back the Common Core Standards at this point would be difficult because the legislature has "passed quite a few laws that further implements them."
Fowler said she's also concerned about how the language arts are being taught under the Common Core, explaining teachers are expected to have students read a greater mix of fiction and non-fiction.
She she's seen classes foregoing the actual literature in favor of literature guides. For example, she said a guide she saw to Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" included a page talking about the author, a page summarizing the book and another page or two talking about why the author wrote the book.
"Are we actually going to read the book and analyze it, or are we going to go off somebody else's interpretation?" she asked, rhetorically.
Resident Pearl Pullman said Fifik is representative of a lot of parents in town.
"This has been so stressful in so many households, and it's causing issues between parents and teachers," she said.
Fowler, attendees talk evolution
During the meeting, Fowler and several attendees discussed the debate over whether evolution or Creationism should be taught in science classes.
Streetsboro resident Brett McClafferty asked Fowler about her feeling regarding the debate over whether evolution or Creationism should be taught in science class.
Fowler said she views science as another form of religion -- secular humanism -- and that she believes it's appropriate for competing theories of our development as a species to be taught in science class.
"There are two primary aspects of education; the first is the communication and study of observable facts; the second aspect is the interpretation of those facts," said Fowler. "Interpretation of factual data is greatly influenced by religious beliefs; therefore, it's imperative that parents retain the right to choose their child's form of education."
Parent Carmen Laudato said evolution isn't a belief, but something "you can observe in a microscope."
McClafferty said he could envision a theology class taught outside science class, but not together.
"If you choose to take a theology class, it's going to give you an opportunity to learn about all religions and all beliefs," he said.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens