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Ohio Public Education Platform

July 19, 2018

The Ohio Constitution (Article VI, sections 2 and 3) requires the state to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools and provide for the organization, administration and control of the system. School district boards of education have the constitutional and statutory responsibility to administer the educational program. Boards of education have the fiduciary duty to ensure the educational needs of all resident students are met in an equitable and adequate manner.

The state’s first obligation is to ensure that a thorough and efficient system is established and maintained. The state has no right under the Ohio constitution to fund alternative educational programs that diminish moral and financial support from the common school system. Ohio’s system of school was declared unconstitutional more than two decades ago, yet since that time $11 billion have been drained from the public school system for publicly-funded, privately-operated charter schools. This egregious flaw in state policy must be addressed.

Jan Resseger of Cleveland Heights, Ohio has aptly defined state and local responsibility for education as follows:

A comprehensive system of public education, that serves all children and is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public, is central to the common good.
~Jan Resseger, Heights Coalition for Public Education

The education platform premised on the constitutional responsibility of the state of Ohio as stated in the preamble is:

•Provide adequate and equitable funding to Ohio school districts to guarantee a comparable opportunity to learn for ALL children. This includes a quality early childhood education, qualified teachers, a rich curriculum that will prepare students for college, work and community, and equitable instructional resources. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WLdVez25ZjDzzd2irSUwUggj-GflNQuO/view?usp=sharing

•Respect local control of public schools run by elected school boards. There are different needs for different schools of different sizes, and each local school board knows what its students, families, and community values. http://www.nvasb.org/assets/why_school_boards.pdf

•Reject the school privatization agenda, which includes state takeovers, charter schools, voucher schemes, and high-stakes testing. The school privatization agenda has proven to be ineffective at bringing efficiency and cost savings to our schools. https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

•Do away with the state takeovers of school districts imposed in House Bill 70. State takeovers of school districts (HB 70), followed by the appointment of CEOs with power to override the decisions of elected school boards and nullify union contracts, are undemocratic, unaccountable, and without checks and balances. http://www.reclaimourschools.org/sites/default/files/state-takeover-factsheet-3.pdf

•Promote a moratorium on the authorization of new charter schools while gradually removing existing charters, which take funding and other valuable resources from public school districts. Charter schools remove funds and other resources from public school districts and need to be phased out. For-profit charter schools should be eliminated – tax dollars should never be transferred into private profits. https://knowyourcharter.com/

•Eliminate vouchers and tuition tax credit programs. Voucher schemes take desperately needed dollars out of education budgets and undermine the protection of religious liberty as defined by the First Amendment. https://educationvotes.nea.org/2017/02/08/5-names-politicians-use-sell-private-school-voucher-schemes-parents/

•Encourage wraparound community learning centers that bring social and health services into Ohio school buildings. These wraparound services ensure that the public schools are the center of the neighborhood, and they include health, dental, and mental health clinics, after school programs, and parent support programs. Cincinnati Public Schools has a very successful program of community learning centers: https://www.cps-k12.org/community/clc

•End the test-and-punish philosophy, and replace it with an ideology of school investment and improvement. The tests have narrowed the curriculum to the tested subjects. If national standardized testing is to continue, testing should be limited to the federal minimum guidelines, and there should be no state standardized tests beyond those mandated by ESSA. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/06/how-testing-practices-have-to-change-in-u-s-public-schools/?utm_term=.45d28f77dcb0

•Remove high stakes mandates from schools, and abolish the practice of punishing schools, teachers, families, and students for arbitrary test scores. Do away with mandatory retention attached to the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and high school end-of-course state tests. If parents choose to opt their children out of testing, no one should be penalized. http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Dangerous-Consequences-of-high-stakes-tests.pdf

•Restore respect for well-trained, certified teachers, and return educator evaluation systems to locally elected school boards. Dismiss Teach for America, which is funded by the Eli Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
https://progressive.org/public-school-shakedown/went-wrong-teach-america/
Eliminate the practice of judging teachers by their students’ scores – research has proven it unreliable.  http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/TeacherEvaluationFactSheetRevisionJanuary2016.pdf

 

Inspired by Jan Resseger’s post: https://janresseger.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/my-public-education-platform/

 

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Voices

Melissa’s Story

I am Melissa Marini Švigelj-Smith, a parent activist from Cleveland who’s very concerned about excessive testing- so concerned that I spoke to the Board of Education of the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools and requested that the board adopt a policy that accommodates families who refuse to allow their children to participate in high stakes standardized tests. Without hesitation, I conveyed this sincere message to the Board:

As evidenced by the easy passage of the last school levy, this community and its parents support Cleveland schools, and that respect and support deserves consistent reciprocity. I don’t believe that I need to rehash recent media reports in order to justify bringing attention to this issue.

As I briefly share some reasons why families have refused to allow their children to participate in high stakes standardized tests, I hope that you will consider adopting a policy that is respectful and supportive of families who express the desire to direct their children’s education, as protected by the 14th amendment.

This is why we refuse…

Because children should not have to attend a school labeled “failing,” or labeled anything at all.

School buildings shelter children with vast amounts of untapped potential. Not failures.

FAILURE should never be the name of a monster hovering over a school building making children afraid of how they will do on a test.

Children shouldn’t have to be afraid of how their teacher will be hurt by their performance on a test.

Or how their school or community or city will be labeled because of how they do on a test.

What sort of sane society that supposedly cherishes its children puts that sort of pressure on a child?

We refuse because without the data, they can’t label our children or anyone else’s children.

We refuse…

Because we know that standardized test scores have only been good at proving one thing: children’s life experiences and backgrounds far outweigh the impact that a school or teacher has on their test performance.

We refuse…

Because we don’t want our children’s privacy violated, and we don’t want test companies profiting from our children.

Because we know that things like art, music, gym, and recess have been shown by research to increase academic success and shouldn’t be reduced or eliminated because kids need to take or prepare for more standardized tests.

We refuse…

Because we know that the emotional and social growth of children in school is not measured on a standardized test.

Because the teacher who delivers groceries to a family in need, advocates for a student, or becomes a student’s confidant, counselor, or role model will never have that data show up in test results, and we trust our children’s teachers to assess their progress.

We refuse…

Because struggling students should not be made to feel like less than the developing human beings that we ALL started out as, because tests are used to label.

We know that the long term consequences of labeling and retention are profound.

NONE of our children are “limited,” “basic,” or “common.”

Words that label can and do. Hurt and Divide.

We refuse…

Because over 2000 education researchers, experts, and professionals signed a letter pleading with our President and Congress to stop relying on high stakes standardized testing to improve education – we have a decade of data proving that it doesn’t work.

Because there are mountains of research that provide more effective and research proven methods to educate our children and to evaluate teachers and schools.

We refuse…

Because when we look at our children, we see their smiles, their talents, their goofiness, the crumbs around their mouths, the dirt on their skin, and the hope in their eyes.

And when we look at our kids,

We never see them as data or test scores…

And neither should you.

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