Opponents of Gov. John Kasich’s plan to overhaul the state’s education system flocked to the Statehouse Wednesday to testify against it.
Kasich and House Republicans say the plan to combine the Department of Education, the Department of Higher Education and Office of Workforce Transformation office would streamline education for career-readiness. The new agency would be called the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement.
The bill would also strip the Ohio Board of Education of most of its authority to craft education policy and would relegate it issues like discipline and teacher licensing.
Opponents include home schoolers, public education advocates, teachers’ unions and city school board members.
Elected state school board member Sarah Fowler counters Gov. Kasich’s argument that board members are fairly unknown to the general public.
“A lot of people don’t know who their elected state representatives are either but I haven’t heard anyone suggesting we should eliminate the legislature,” Fowlers said. “We know how to find out who our representatives are and the concept of both separation of powers and elected representation supersedes whether or not every person in the district knows who their elected representative is.”
Other critics of the bill have said it will create a “mega-agency” that’s less responsive to the needs of students. Supporters have said the bill will make the governor’s office more accountable on education and better prepare students for the workforce.
Since its introduction, several members of both parties have suggested that big changes to the bill could be coming soon.