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Ohio legislation might be change our schools need

“Virtually every governor for 40 or 50 years has wanted to have more control in regard” to education policy, Gov. Mike DeWine said last fall.

And according to a report by the Ohio Capital Journal, lawmakers are making another attempt at giving governors that control. State Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, reintroduced the idea — now called Senate Bill 1 — last week.

“Senate Bill 1 will put, basically, the governor in charge of education policy in the state through the cabinet-level position,” State Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware, told the Capital Journal.

One can understand lawmakers’ frustration with a State Board of Education that for a year-and-a-half has been unable even to choose a permanent superintendent. But teachers and local-level administrators are right to be worried the change would simply exchange the devil they know for the devil they don’t know — and that it may be moving too quickly to get it right.

As lawmakers take a look at SB 1, they must consider the dangers of leaving state education (which, admittedly, is a mess) in the hands of an executive branch that could have a tendency to inject more politics and agenda than common sense into educating our children. And, those same lawmakers must remember there might not always be a person with their letter of choice after his or her last name, sitting in the governor’s office.

A new director, under the governor, would take over “general supervision of the system of public education in the state,” exercise “policy forming, planning and evaluative functions for the public schools,” develop a financial reporting standard used by the school districts and “administer and supervise the allocation and distribution of all state and federal funds for public school education,” according to the Capital Journal.

Again lawmakers must be cautious in adding this wrinkle. If the change is not being proposed simply for change’s sake — and as punishment for a state board that will not win any job performance awards — SB 1 could be part of much-needed movement forward for Ohio’s schools.

editorial@vindy.com

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