The major tenets of Governor Kasich's "mid-biennium budget bill" were unveiled yesterday. There has been much speculation that November's sound defeat of S.B. 5 by Ohio voters would cause Republicans to shy away from thorny or controversial measures, like streamlining state and local government and enacting additional reforms to education. A quick review of the budget plan shows that isn't the case.
Among the governor’s K-12 education proposals are:
- a strengthened third-grade reading guarantee—while Ohio has had a version of this guarantee on the books for years, it has been decried as an “unfunded mandate” by local districts and largely gone unenforced;
- performance standards for drop-out recovery charter schools—these schools have been excepted from Ohio’s charter school academic death penalty and other accountability measures since their inception more than a decade ago;
- a more straightforward, A-F school-rating system—the new system would be easier to understand and more accurately reflect schools’ true performance;
- adjustments to teacher evaluation and testing requirements—while the evaluation requirements put in place through the budget bill last summer are well-intentioned, they need tweaking to be more meaningful and workable at the local level; and
- passage of Mayor Frank Jackson's reform plan for Cleveland's schools—the city’s schools are suffering mightily, both academically and financially; Mayor Jackson’s plan—which carries the support of the district superintendent and business community—would put the district on the path toward academic improvement and fiscal stability.
Governor Kasich still has yet to tackle a few areas of education policy that need attention here (school funding first and foremost), but there is much to like in the plan he unveiled yesterday and it is heartening to see him display leadership in K-12 education policy and continue to advance important reforms.
Stay tuned to the Ohio Gadfly Daily and the Fordham Institute for continued analysis of the budget.