Fordham Institute media statement on proposed education governance changes

Today, Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) announced that he’ll be introducing legislation to significantly change the way Ohio governs public schools. The proposal calls for the creation of the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement, which will focus on aligning Ohio’s education system to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The new agency will absorb the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and most of the responsibilities of both the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The leader of the Department of Learning and Achievement would be a cabinet-level official and appointed by the governor.

“While the most important part of education happens every day in classrooms across Ohio, state leaders bear the responsibility of providing support and clear guidance to assist school districts in implementing education law,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “By creating an agency under the direct oversight of the governor, the legislature would ensure that governors are unambiguously responsible—and accountable to the people—for executing Ohio education laws.”

The soon to be introduced legislation shifts the focus of the state board of education away from its current role, which is to create administrative rules and implement laws passed by the legislature, and to a narrower scope focused primarily on educator licensure. Their role would be similar to the various state licensing boards that focus on professional standards.

“The introduction of this legislation well before the general election shows that the House is serious about holding the governor accountable for educational progress, whoever he or she may be,” Aldis added. “As gubernatorial candidates talk about their visions for education, these changes would ensure that our next governor will truly have the ability to shape the direction of education and should result in more coherent policies and greater continuity.”