A new era dawned today for Columbus’ public education system. Today, at Indianola K-8 School—the nation’s first junior high school—Governor Kasich signed House Bill 167, the Columbus Reform Plan. The reform plan was crafted in response to the cheating scandal that has rocked Columbus City Schools, first reported publically last summer.

Governor John Kasich signs House Bill 167

The legislation, which raced through Ohio General Assembly in 39 days, enacts three major reforms: establishes an independent auditor, empowers the mayor to authorize charter schools, and shares local levy dollars, which normally fund only district schools, with high-performing charter schools. These reforms represent three of the 55 reforms put forward by the Columbus Education Commission.

Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman (left) and Ohio governor John Kasich (right)

House Bill 167 better positions Columbus’ public schools (district and charter) to compete with the highest-performing urban school systems in the nation. By empowering the mayor with greater authority over the public school system—in his remarks, Governor Kasich dubbed the mayor, “the enforcer”—schools will be held to higher performance standards, while gaining the political support and clout that an influential mayor can offer. The plan also calls for a November levy, and the Democrat mayor and Republican governor both strongly urged Columbus residents to support it. And, the plan—if rightly executed—will also kick start efforts to attract the nation’s highest-performing charter school networks to open schools in high-need Columbus communities.

So, kudos to Ohio’s business, political, and community leaders for their swift action in crafting and passing House Bill 167. A here’s hoping that a fresh start to education will make Columbus a truly world-class city for all its residents, especially its youngest.

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