Legislative Report for Feb. 2018

February 2018 Legislative Committee Report

Robo-Scoring Test Essays: Since 2015, Ohio has been transitioning toward having all of its standardized test essays automatically graded. Recently, the Columbus Schools and other districts raised some concerns after far more essays were given scores of zero. The state says that students had copied and pasted too much source material, essentially plagiarizing, while the districts stated that this is something students are often taught to do an an effective way of citing information. If the use of artificial intelligence in the grading of essays concerns you, please bring up the issue with our local school board, the district’s curricular leaders, and contact your legislator.


State School Board District Two Seat: It has come to our attention that the State Board Seat for our district is vacant. Former Board Member Kathleen McGervey seems to have unceremoniously resigned her position. The seat can be temporarily filled through an appointment by the Governor until a new Board Member is elected in November. With that said, here is a revised contact list for the State Board, as well as the House & Senate Education Committees.


Graduation & Strategic Planning: Having emailed the State School Board regarding the Graduation Requirement, I received several positive responses regarding extending the 2018 additional pathways to the classes of 19 & 20, as well as developing a long term solution. This contact included a phone call & email from Cincinnati area Board Member Pat Bruns. She included a document that she had shared with her area Superintendents that summarized the actions of the State Board in 2017, and provided a glimpse at where they are headed. Of special interest is the State Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Group which is establishing a vision of education in Ohio for the future. According to Bruns, this vision seeks to move us further from the test and punish sensibility, and toward one that views a child’s education holistically. Information regarding public input on the Strategic Plan is below.


National Conference of State Legislators: Also included in Bruns’ information was a link shared with the State Board by Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner. Lehner has been traveling to D.C. to take part in the National Conference of State Legislators who have been working on a vision regarding how to move state education programs toward providing students with a world class education. Bruns was excited to find that the ideas being championed among these legislators coincide with those being developed at the state level in the Strategic Planning Group. If you’d rather not maneuver the Senator’s link above, you can find a summary of their vision in a document located here.


Regional Strategic Plan Stakeholder Meetings: The Ohio Department of Education will be hosting regional meetings in March & April to gain feedback on their Strategic Plan (referenced above). Keep an eye out for information on dates, times, and locations. Like the ESSA meetings before, this is an excellent opportunity for educators and other stakeholders to weigh in on Ohio’s education plan going forward.


ECOT has closed: In case you’ve been living in a self-imposed media blackout and hadn’t heard, Ohio’s charter school giant, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, has shuttered. This potentially makes more difficult the collection of the $80 million fraudulently taken from the state, though state leaders still believe it is possible. The Ohio Supreme Court will hear ECOT’s appeal regarding the collection of money on February 13th. Among the Justices on the court is Terrence O’Donnell, who accepted a campaign donation from ECOT’s founder Bill Lager in 2012, and spoke at an ECOT commencement in 2013.


OEA supports 240: The OEA is encouraging members to tell their legislators to support Senator Peggy Lehner’s Senate Bill 240 which would reform the Teacher Evaluation System. This bill is co-sponsored by Elyria’s Senator Gayle Manning. Contact your State Senator and encourage them to support the bill.


Congressional Redistricting: Responding to pressure from the Fair Districts movement, Republicans in Ohio supported a bipartisan effort to end gerrymandering in the state. The decision will go to the voters on May 8th. OEA strongly supports the plan.