Richard (Dick) Ross was sworn into today by state board of education president Debe Terhar as Ohio’s 37th State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The ceremony took place at the Reynoldsburg City High School (just east of Columbus). Dr. Ross takes over the leadership reigns of the Ohio Department of Education after serving as Governor Kasich’s director of 21st Century Education for the last two years. While in the Governor’s office Ross helped to craft the state’s A-F report card, the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee, and the new school funding plan being debated in the legislature.
Ross is the fourth state superintendent in two years, and enters the department during a time of change, challenges and opportunity. Ohio is revamping its school funding system, implementing new academic standards through the Common Core in English Language Arts and Mathematics, new standards in science and social studies, and putting into place new assessments through PARCC. Ohio is also a school choice hotbed, and is expected to see continued growth in both charter school students and students receiving public vouchers to attend private schools. These programs are under much scrutiny and could use improvements to their accountability and oversight.
Much of the department’s senior leadership has turned over in recent years and a big part of Ross’ early efforts will need to be around building his senior leadership team. He is the man for the job as his entire professional career has been defined by his service to children. He has done it all. He has been a teacher, a building level leader, a superintendent in three different school districts across the Buckeye State, and an innovator who early on embraced charter schools and on-line learning. Ross has lived and breathed public education, and his experience as a district level doer, reformer and a state education policy leader should bring a steady leadership style to the Department.
In his inauguration speech Ross made clear that his intention is to help make Ohio “a national leader in providing high quality education in every district and every school.” Ross’ professional experience included serving as superintendent of Reynoldsburg School District for 20-years. Many of the school reforms Ross initiated during his time at Reynoldsburg have helped to make that district one of the state’s highest performers academically, while also making it one of them most efficient in use of tax dollars. Most remarkable about the Reynoldsburg story is that as the district has become more diverse and economically challenged its student achievement has steadily improved. This defies trends across the state and the nation, and it is this sort of success Ohio needs Ross to bring to the state department.
In his comments today Ross shared that he has “a passion to serve boys and girls well,” and his experience means he likely will. During his distinguished career in Ohio public education Ross has been an advocate for gifted education, for special education, for school choice, for the redesign of curriculum and in all these efforts he has fought for the educational needs of students.
Congratulations Dr. Ross and we wish you the very best. The children and families of Ohio need you to be successful.