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August 04, 2009
July 12, 2010
July 15, 2010
It’s been a while since Gadfly buzzed about legislative
hearings or new bills, what with the past legislature renowned for its inactivity.
But the new 129th General Assembly already has several education
bills in the works, so expect Gadfly to be reporting on capital matters over
the coming months.
HB 21 –
Virtual charter schools, value-added
data, and Teach For America graduates.
Sponsored by Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Butler County), the bill is a recycled
version of last year’s HB 312 and SB 180 (legislation
aiming to make Ohio more competitive for Race to the Top funds, and for which
in support). While SB 180 was passed by the Senate, neither bill made it
anywhere in the House.
The basic components of the legislation are well-intentioned,
but limited. HB 21 would:
HB 30 –
School funding. Perhaps the
most-talked-about education bill so far, HB 30, sponsored by Rep. Randy Gardner
(R-Wood County), would eliminate significant requirements from HB 1 (Gov. Strickland’s
“evidence-based” funding model). Specifically, it abolishes of the School
Funding Advisory Council, as well as universal all-day kindergarten mandates,
requirements for school districts to create “family and civic engagement teams,”
and other reporting requirements. File this piece of legislation under both
“least surprising” and “most convenient to cash-strapped school districts.”
Despite the fact that many district leaders expressed support for these
components of the EBM in theory, they
were viewed as unfunded mandates, and nothing troubles school leaders more than
that ugly phrase.
HB 36 – Calamity days. Co-sponsored by Reps. Casey Kozlowski (R-Pierpont) and John Carey
(R-Wellston), the bill would give back
two calamity days to Ohio schools districts while also granting schools more
authority to lengthen the school day to make up those missed days. Although giving flexibility to districts and
schools to determine for themselves how to make up for lost time is commendable
(let’s see that kind of autonomy doled out elsewhere in K-12 education), upping
excusable calamity days from three to five would be a bad move. We’ve argued before
that Ohio’s students simply can’t afford lost instructional time; if anything,
the Buckeye State should be moving in the opposite
direction – to lengthen the instructional time available to students. No
one’s arguing that districts in the midst of a snowstorm can’t cancel school,
just that they should make up instructional time beyond three excused days.
Rep. Carey said that justifications for the bill included “safety
and financial concerns” (Gongwer News;
subscription required) but excusing two extra calamity days does nothing to
save money, as teachers and principals are still paid for missed days. If anything,
it’s wasteful budgeting and lost learning opportunities for children.