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August 04, 2009
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This morning, economist and education policy expert Eric Hanushek testified in a joint meeting of the Ohio House and Senate education committees. His testimony ? which focused on the importance of ensuring that all education policies, including school finance policy, create incentives for achievement ? comes less than one week before Gov. Kasich's budget will be introduced.
The most debated education-related policy changes here in Ohio over the last month have been about Senate Bill 5, the Buckeye State's controversial attempt to weaken public sector collective bargaining in the state. (Terry testified in support of the aims of the teacher personnel provisions in the bill, not expressly on rolling back collective bargaining rights.)
Hanushek's presentation today helped reframe the debate in a necessary way: undoing LIFO, or changing teacher salary schedules, or including value-added data in teachers' and principals' evaluations is not about weakening unions but about incentivizing performance, driving student achievement, and ultimately improving the quality of Ohio's future labor force.
Given the highly politicized environment surrounding the capitol lately, it was good to hear an outside expert explain the research and remind lawmakers that the need to move toward achievement-focused policies predates the Midwest's turmoil over collective bargaining and will certainly go on long after. Hanushek explained:
As important as the fiscal issues that motivate current discussions are ? they are actually secondary in my mind to other policy concerns about our schools, although we shall see that there is also overlap. The current fiscal situation is pushing us to make a variety of responses. We should first respond to these pressures in ways that improve the system. But, second, we need to recognize that ? even if the fiscal situation of Ohio improves ? there are fundamental reforms that are needed.
His testimony included several policy recommendations:
Read his full testimony here.
Eric Hanushek's visit to Ohio was made possible by the generous support of the Cleveland Foundation, Diggs Family Foundation, Farmer Family Foundation, Fordham Institute, George Gund Foundation,? Mathile Family Foundation, Nord Family Foundation, and the Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation.
- Jamie Davies O'Leary