PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS
Stop the State Takeover of Ohio's Schools
House Bill 70 is devastating impacted local schools and the communities they serve.
HB 70 was passed in 2015 after one public hearing, a woefully inadequate period of time for proper consideration of a complicated major education policy change, and an extremely close vote in the Ohio Senate – 18 to 14.
House Bill 70 effectively removes decision-making power from locally elected school boards and installs an independent commission to operate the district. The commission then appoints a CEO who is authorized, without consulting the Board, to make all operating decisions, such as voiding contracts, terminating employees and even converting district schools to charter schools.
Proponents of HB70 believed that an appointed CEO could save struggling school districts; instead they created a form of intervention which is proving to be ineffective and disruptive, with a number of undesirable, unintended consequences.
The legislation includes a grace period that ends in 2018, which means that several more districts, urban and suburban, could soon be subject to its provisions.
Two Ohio school districts are already subject to the law and potentially more could be facing the takeover in the near future unless action is taken now.
In its present form, implementing HB70 in these additional districts would disproportionately hurt those it is intended to help - large urban districts, children from minority populations, and children who live in poverty. This should not be allowed to continue without a thorough airing of the provisions of the legislation and its unintended impact on schools, communities and specific populations.
The law is also devastating entire communities, with the threat of a state takeover is causing good teachers and administrators to look elsewhere for other jobs and flee distressed districts, leading to a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure, leaving the children of those communities behind.
The Ohio School District Report Card, the basis for invoking HB 70, is unfair and overly reliant on consistently flawed standardized tests and district evaluation system.
The state has changed the testing approach multiple times in the last several years, even though studies show that such changes disproportionately affect urban districts and its students.
The state should test both progress and proficiency in an effective, consistent and fair manner, but the current measures lead to extreme, unexplainable grade swings – A in one year, F in the next. The current system doesn’t work.
We will work to protect public education and improve some of the current rating procedures and current provisions of HB70.
School districts, Mayors, parents and other stakeholders are joining together to raise the awareness of the negative effects of HB 70 and its impact on schools, students and communities.
The negative impact that the provisions of HB 70 have had on the communities of Youngstown and Lorain should not be repeated.
It is time for the Legislature and the Ohio Department of Education to pause HB 70 and its CEO takeovers to allow for a thorough review of the bill’s impact on schools and communities and provide ample time for the development of a positive, constructive alternative.
This is a community wide concern that will continue to grow.
This is not just a school district issue. The quality of our schools affects local property values, community development and economic growth. Strong schools are essential to every community.
This is not just an adult issue. The impact on the operations of the district and recruitment of effective educators ultimately impacts the future of our children.
This is not just an urban issue. HB 70 can also affect suburban districts and can quickly and unexpectedly impact other districts because of the flawed and unfair system of accountability.
Our primary concern lies with our children, who have the right to receive a quality education in every one of Ohio’s public schools. We need to find a better, less disruptive way of helping school districts when they are not fulfilling that obligation.
We ask public officials, candidates and public education supporters to sign our pledge to stop the state takeover of schools - because Public Education Matters.
Join us - sign our pledge and make public education a cornerstone of your platform.
Commit to fix House Bill 70 and the Report Card problems in a meaningful way and call on state officials to “pause” HB 70 until the newly-elected Governor and Legislature are seated.