COLUMBUS, Ohio — Democratic candidates won control of Ohio’s State Board of Education, and a week later Republican lawmakers introduced a bill to strip them of their powers.
For the first time in years, progressive candidates will control an elected executive agency. Candidates are elected as bipartisan candidates, however each tends to be conservative or progressive and supported by one party. School candidates tend to share their beliefs publicly.
Three of the five seats up for grabs were occupied by Liberal candidates. Solon’s Tom Jackson defeated incumbent Tim Miller by around 50,000 votes. Teresa Fedor, a former senator from Toledo, beat opponent Sarah McGervey by more than 30,000 votes. Cincinnati’s Katie Hofmann defeated incumbent Jenny Kilgore by around 30,000 votes.
“We’re just looking forward to getting back to Columbus and doing people’s jobs,” Jackson told News 5.
Jackson’s excitement at the win was short-lived. For now, the Board is currently responsible for what K-12 public education looks like in the state. But a reissued bill would free members from developing education policies, setting financial standards and implementing programs.
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“You are looking in the wrong place for solutions to a problem,” said the elected member.
Republican Senator Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) says the Department of Education needs a massive overhaul to improve student success, such as: The legislature could not be spoken to on Friday.
“Senate Bill 178 addresses this need by refocusing our state-level system on what matters most: our children and their future,” Reineke said in his statement.
The only responsibilities that would remain with the board would be selecting the state superintendent, licensing teachers, handling staff disciplinary issues, and making decisions about the transfer of school territories.
If Reineke really cares about student achievement, Jackson argued that he should talk to his GOP peers because they create the education laws.
“Republicans have been controlling for years, so they really need to review their own actions and stop scapegoating the State Council,” he said. “The timing is just too strange.”
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said this has been an ongoing proposal for years.
“We have an isolated bureaucracy with no oversight, that’s the problem,” Huffman told reporters. “It’s not about who’s on the board.”
Huffman and other lawmakers have been frustrated with the board for years. This isn’t the first attempt to take power away. For the Senate president, the board either takes too long to implement new legislation or simply ignores the legislature.
“This system, which has grown in Ohio state over the decades, essentially has an isolated Ohio Department of Education that is not accountable to the state legislature,” he said. “They also have no responsibility to the governor because they are not his employees.”
Ohio was left without a state superintendent for public education following Steve Dackin’s tumultuous hiring and subsequent resignation by the board in June.
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What this bill proposes, however, is clearly an overstatement by the government, Jackson said.
“It doesn’t address the needs of today’s students, but it’s in step not only with the state legislature, but also with the state attorney general’s office,” he said.
The bill was introduced nearly two years ago, so Jackson wants to know why it wasn’t heard until after the Democrats took over.
“When you ask the people of the state of Ohio to vote for school board members, they voted for the majority of school board members who are affiliated with the Democratic Party,” Jackson said. “I absolutely think that’s part of their calculus.”
Huffman denied this, also saying that it had nothing to do with the Board of Ed’s attention-grabbing behavior. lately.
“It doesn’t really have anything to do with these recent decisions or many other things that are timely in terms of public discussion.”
That’s disingenuous, Jackson replied.
“They’re trying to stuff something through both houses into the governor’s desk in less than six weeks,” he added. “So the timing is very odd, but with the players involved, it’s not surprising at all.”
Lawmakers say the bill will be heard again after Thanksgiving.
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