Education Advocates Say Ohio Legislature Should Focus on Funding, Not Regulating Curriculum | Ohio News | Cleveland

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It’s silly season in Columbus

Groups keeping tabs on the Ohio Legislature’s handling of education hope the General Assembly focuses on funding and calling for new teachers, rather than bills regulating curriculum and teaching. “dividing” issues.

The Ohio Education Association continues its efforts to eliminate the mandatory retention of the third-grade reading guarantee, focusing its attention on the State Senate.

“I’m optimistic that now that we’re past the election season, we can focus on finding common ground and making sure we’re meeting the needs of students,” said Scott DiMauro, director of the OAS.

The association has already issued a series of recommendations to improve teacher recruitment and retention strategies, including removing financial barriers and prioritizing “the need for a diverse teacher base to serve all of our communities”.

“I’m encouraged that there have been a lot of productive conversations regionally and with policy makers who I think share this concern,” DiMauro said.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers also highlighted teacher training and retention of quality teachers as part of their state priorities.

“Teachers are always tired and we need to look at how we are running the education system,” OFT chief executive Melissa Cropper said.

What education policy groups don’t want to see is rushed legislation that runs through the lame duck session with no capacity for transparency and accountability. This includes bills that have already been introduced, such as Bill 616, the most recent “Dividing Concepts” bill introduced by State Reps. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, and Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, to regulate school curriculum, including legislating when and how the orientation and gender ideology can be included in school lessons.

But Cropper isn’t as worried about “extremist” bills passing before the end of the year because the The Republican majority has increased based on general election results, theoretically giving the GOP no reason to fast-track bills or quickly join them with other bills.

“We’re certainly opposed to anything being passed in a lame duck session when there’s no time for anything to be checked out,” Cropper said. “But given the results of the election, I don’t think there’s any urgency on their part to do anything.”

HB 616 is currently not scheduled to appear in committee this week, as the Legislature returns from its summer recess.

DiMauro said he wasn’t sure about the outlook for education policy during the lame duck session, but more than that he wanted more focus on “committing resources in a financing plan that responds primarily to the needs of students and teachers”.

“We know it’s critical to the future of our state … that Ohio be a welcoming place for educators,” DiMauro said.

Both education leaders were bolstered by the results of the Ohio State Board of Education races held Nov. 8, in which two incumbents were removed from their postsand another race put a former Democratic lawmaker and teacher on the board to replace outgoing member Kirsten Hill.

“I don’t think these are small changes, I think these are huge changes,” Cropper said. “We finally have more people on the board who are there because they want this education system to work for students and…not about a culture war agenda.”

Originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal. Republished here with permission.

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