OHIO — Some lawmakers in the Ohio Senate and Ohio House want to reorganize Ohio’s Department of Education.
What You Need To Know
- Under a new proposal, the Ohio Department of Education would be reorganized
- The governor’s office would have oversight of ODE instead of the state superintendent
- State Board of Education and superintendent duties would shift
“The evidence shows there is a need for systemic change in our education system if we are to ensure our kids become well-educated and career-ready adults," Sen. Bill Reineke said.
From Sen. Andrew Brenner’s perspective, “It’s completely dysfunctional with no oversight over the department which has clearly led to a lot of problems that are systemic throughout the state of Ohio. And that’s partially why this is happening.”
Here are the key points of the Senate Bill 1 proposal:
- Ohio’s Department of Education shifts from under the supervision of the State Board of Education and would become a state agency under the governor’s supervision.
- Instead of the state superintendent of public instruction overseeing the department of education, it would be led by a director appointed by the governor, subject to advice and consent of the Ohio Senate.
- ODE would get a new name (Department of Education and Workforce or DEW) and would focus on primary and secondary education, while preparing kids for the workforce.
- The department would enforce Ohio Administrative Code rules and adopt new rules according to law for accountability.
- The state board’s responsibilities would be limited to implementing and enforcing teacher licensure rules and disciplinary measures for educator conduct and determining school district land transfers.
While Reineke said the bill does not change the structure of Ohio’s State Board of Education, it would mean that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction would no longer oversee the department of education. Republican legislators say all of the changes would ensure more accountability as the current system lacks efficiency and is not producing results.
Still, newly elected State Board of Education members are concerned about what’s being proposed. Tom Jackson, District 10, said what his constituents have to say about it all is what’s important.
“I feel like that status quo that I was elected under should be the model that should be championed. So unless I hear a lot from my constituents within District 10 that the current model is not working, I think we’re going to look to hold on to that status quo," Jackson said.
He, along with former Ohio Sen. Teresa Fedor, District 2, was elected to serve four-year terms. Fedor believes the state board is doing its job contrary to what some legislators have indicated. Making a move like the one that’s being proposed is unconstitutional in Fedor’s mind.
“There would be a total disconnect and my No. 1 concern is transparency. Right now, the public can access the State Board of Education throughout our whole process and have input on rules and regulations, our discussions, our debates," Fedor said.
If legislation passes and makes it to the governor’s desk, Fedor and Jackson believe there should be some sort of compromise versus the full sweeping changes on record right now.
“There can be a compromise worked out where we do our work. We continue to do our work. The state superintendent can be on the workforce board, … you know, on both sides of this issue and we work together,” said Fedor.
In the meantime, Jackson just hopes the state board can stay focused on the kids while creating environments for achievement.