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Reform proposal would weaken State Board of Education

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COLUMBUS — House Republicans on Wednesday proposed a sweeping overhaul of Ohio’s educational government structure, removing many of the powers of the State Board of Education and state superintendent and giving them to a new cabinet-level position under the governor.

State Rep. Bill Reineke (R., Tiffin), with the backing of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R., Clarksville) proposed combining much of the Department of Education, the Department of Higher Education, and the governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation into a single cabinet agency.

Mr. Reineke, accompanied by Seneca County school and economic development officials, said the realignment is necessary to provide for smoother cooperation in developing talent for the ever-changing demands of Ohio workplaces.

He said the current system can be too slow to respond when skill certification or apprenticeships are needed rather than traditional high school diplomas.

“We have heavy remediation rates currently, and that’s just not acceptable when we need these other skills immediately,” Mr. Reineke said.

The State Board would continue to exist, but its powers would be largely reduced to a licensing and disciplinary issues involving teachers and other school professionals. The state superintendent, hired by the board, would continue with roles the state board, his boss, would give him, but decisions affecting education policy would be made by the new cabinet head to be appointed by the governor.

Mr. Reineke has said the governor’s office is on board with the bill.

Gov. John Kasich has said he would like more authority of education policy than state law and the Ohio Constitution currently gives him. He has used that as an answer to criticism by some that he has not stepped in to prevent the recent closing of Ohio’s largest on-line charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

“I still would love to see the state school board have the responsibility for providing certificates and things like that, but I also believe that the policy of education, primary and secondary, should be under the responsibility and purview of the governor of the state…,” he said recently. “We would love to see legislation passed to do that.”

Bill Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, said an independent state board is imperative.

“Any provision for a change in governance of the state agency for public education should be presented to the citizens of Ohio on a statewide ballot,” he said.

Check back for more updates. 

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.






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