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Vol. 36: House Bill 512

House Bill 512

The Ohio House of Representatives has proposed Bill 512 in an attempt to streamline bureaucracy and give businesses more say in how Ohio's educational process takes place. The Bill would merge the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) with the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The bill would also create a "Department of Learning and Achievement", which would assume most of the duties currently performed by the Ohio Board of Education. Supporters of the bill say this would allow for a less convoluted process when it comes to altering Ohio's education system. Giving School Districts the resources and means necessary to have the autonomy needed to succeed is a laudable goal, however, this new government agency may not be the solution.  

While House Bill 512 is an attempt to make Ohio's education system more efficient, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District(CMSD) believes that by taking power away from the Ohio Board of Education, House Bill 512 would limit the voice of voters and educators in Ohio. The new agency created by the bill, The Department of Learning and Achievement, would be headed by an appointee, who would be chosen by the Governor of Ohio. This could lead to changes in education policy every time a new Governor is elected. CMSD is grateful for the continued support of the current Governor's Office in the creation of the Cleveland Plan, however, term limits may impede the needed stability for any reform plans to take hold prior to elections changing leadership.  

The new process put in place by the bill could reduce transparency and de-emphasize the role of the state school board and parents, both are critical to the advancement and buy-in of any education plans for students in Ohio.   Workforce development and Career Technical opportunities are a growing need in Ohio, however, the voice and influence of the business community can be better served by local connections through collaboration with high schools and than in a top down mandated collaborations.  In Cleveland, we have successful advisory boards for most of our High Schools made up of local business to support real-world internships and curriculum that moves scholars toward careers of today and tomorrow.  The coordination of the business community and schools is extremely worthwhile, however, not at the expense of the current structure and benefits.  

The ODE under this leadership has been very effective in working with both the governor's office and school districts throughout the state when drafting Ohio's ESSA plan.  It has been receptive to our needs for more time and input from stakeholders during the draft stage and has become more connected through the recent budget process to Ohio Means Jobs securing better coordination through the promotion of information to school districts around workforce development. We believe that there are better ways to support the intentions of the bill without recreating a new department and it is with this goal in mind that we do not support this bill. 

Photos are courtesy of Cleveland Metropolitan School District
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