Legislative Report Dec. 2017

December 2017 Legislative Committee Report

Senate Bill 216: Senator Matt Huffman’s (R, Lima) hodgepodge education bill is drawing a great deal of attention. In November, the Elyria School Board passed a resolution to formally voice their support for its attempt to increase local control.

In testimony regarding the bill, State Superintendent Paolo DiMaria voiced his concerns regarding several of the bill’s actions, including the provision to eliminate the required administration of the KRA in favor of local assessments that may provide more valuable data. DeMaria also indicated concerns with allowing district approved tests for teacher evaluation, increased flexibility in teacher licensure, and increased restrictions regarding CCP classes.

If you’re suffering from insomnia, you can find the entire 162-page text of SB 216 here, or the OEA’s brief summary of the bill here.

House Bill 200: In other shenanigans, the Ohio House is on the verge of passing HB 200 which would expand private school vouchers to include a more sizable portion of the middle class. The bill is almost identical to one championed earlier in the year by Senator Huffman (yes, him again). The House Bill, sponsored by Representative Koehler (R, Springfield) is designed to raise the income threshold so more families can benefit from the vouchers. According to the Plain Dealer, Koehler explained, “This will allow more parents to have the opportunity to say ‘I want something better for my child.'”

Opponents of the bill caution against the difficulty in budgeting for an unpredictable system, and point to the fact that the plan would further siphon tax dollars away from public schools in favor of private, mostly religious schools. House Democrats have been vocal in their opposition, especially Representative Teresa Fedor (D, Toledo) who emphasized how devastating the cuts could be for public schools.

The bill would open the voucher system to 60% of Ohio families. Senator Huffman indicated that he believes that no income restrictions should exist.

Federal Voucher News: At the federal level, the new tax bill that resurrects the old failed economic trickle-down philosophy (see Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush), which was refuted by the IMF two years ago, not only provides tax cuts for the wealthy, but changes an existing college savings plan into a voucher-like program that allows the wealthy to use tax benefits to send their kids to private schools.

See the NEA’s Education Insider page to take action on this and other issues.

Contact Your Legislator: Elyria’s Ohio Representative is Nathan Manning. He’s just announced his intention to run for the Senate seat being vacated by his mother, Senator Gayle Manning due to term limits. They are both advocates for public education. Click on their names for contact information, and over break writes to wish them a Happy New Year, and that you hope it’s one filled with sensible education policy.

Fighting the Youngstown Plan: The OSBA, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and Ohio Federation of Teachers filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of the Youngstown School Board’s fight against HB 70, urging the court to find the bill unconstitutional.