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More Days of Action against School Takeovers

June 18, 2019

More Days of Action against School Takeovers
July 1-17, 2019

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill, House Bill 154, to repeal the school takeover law (HB 70), and its language was added to the House’s two-year budget. Instead of accepting a repeal of HB 70, the Senate version of the budget removed any changes to Academic Distress Commissions altogether, leaving current law from HB 70 in place.

A final decision on the biennial state budget was supposed to be made by the end of June. With legislative leaders unable to agree on a new two-year state budget by the June 30th legal deadline, a 17-day temporary funding measure was passed.

Public education advocates now have another 17 days to strongly indicate to the governor and the Ohio General Assembly that Ohioans want the state takeover law completely and immediately eliminated.

Check out their plans:

  • Individually, or as part of a group effort, people should complete at least one action every day.
  • Locate actions in the public school district at the school board office, school buildings, public library, other populous areas, or in the comfort of your own neighborhood.
  • Use social media extensively to show the large number of people involved and impress legislators.

Tag PEP @OhioPEP (Twitter & Facebook) so PEP can amplify your efforts. Suggested Hashtags: #RepealHB70 #Keep HB154 #OHbudget #protectpubliced

Actions against School Takeovers
(Try to complete at least one action daily.)

These ideas are meant to inspire and/or guide your efforts. This is by no means a step by step instruction booklet! Take what speaks to you, and leave what doesn’t. If you decide to do something completely new, please let us know so we can share your awesome ideas.

SHARE photos and other posts on all social media platforms. Tag your state rep, senator, the governor, education organization, etc.

  • SPREAD THE WORD. Educate and inspire others in your community to get involved.
  • Urge the Conference Committee to Keep HB 154 Language in the State Budget Bill!
  • Make signs/banners to use for the coming weeks. (Such as: NO SCHOOL TAKEOVERS, Repeal HB 70, Pass HB 154, School Takeovers are Undemocratic, etc.)
  • Tell your Senator to end Academic Distress Commissions and Fund Our Future!
  • Help host a rally/vigil in front of a local school or school board office – any local BOE/union collaboration on this event would be very powerful. Contact your community newspaper and news stations, and invite them to cover the event. Remember to bring your signs!
  • Holding your sign, take a selfie at home or at some interesting landmark: district legislator’s office, local school, school board office, library, park, pool, sporting event, vacation locale, national education conference… the possibilities are endless. Invite others to join you and post on social media. Be creative and have fun!
  • Urge your Senator to oppose the voucher provisions in the Substitute Budget Bill (HB 166.)
  • Create your own meme or choose one of the following memes that address school takeovers. Post the meme on social media with a Hashtag.
  • Call and/or send an email message to your elected state leaders, and ask them to support the complete repeal of HB 70 as designated in HB 154. The 3 most important people to contact are Governor Mike DeWine (614-644-4357), Speaker of the House Larry Householder (614-466-2500), and Senate Leader Larry Obhof (614-466-7505.)
  • Call the governor (614-466-3555) daily at 1:54pm, and tell him to keep the language of HB 154 in the biennial budget.
  • Email Gov. DeWine and remind him that we expect him to move in a different direction from Gov. Kasich. Allowing school takeovers to remain in effect would be the wrong way to go for Ohio.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed for your local paper sharing why you support wraparound services like health, vision and dental care, after-school sports leagues and more for both students and the broader community; include some reasons why you are against state takeovers of public school districts.
  • Speak to your city council members to compare and contrast the impact of state takeovers with wraparound services. Encourage them to call the governor at 614-466-3555 to remind him to respect local control and the authority of our democratically-elected and locally-accountable school boards to oversee their school districts.
  • Either individually, as a family, or within an organization, make a formal resolution rejecting school takeovers – signed resolutions should be forwarded to Gov. DeWine, the Ohio General Assembly, and the media. Post on social media. Template can be found here.
  • Following the Toledo School District’s model, ask community business leaders to send letters to the governor and the General Assembly about the need for collaboration instead of destructive school takeovers.
  • Talk with area realtors, particularly if you live in a school district that has potential for takeover, and give them an overview of how state takeovers are a form of redlining that negatively affects real estate sales. Ask them to share that information with your district’s state leaders found here.

Talking Points about School Takeovers

  1. State takeovers of public school districts are UNDEMOCRATIC, UNACCOUNTABLE, AND UNACCEPTABLE.
  2. School takeovers are UNDEMOCRATIC, because they take away the power from locally elected school boards. An elected school board provides a democratic voice for parents and community members to influence decision-making regarding public education.
  3. School takeovers are UNACCOUNTABLE, because they give an unaccountable appointed CEO total control over every facet of the schools.
  4. School takeovers are UNACCEPTABLE, because their reliance on test scores in underfunded schools disproportionately impacts minority families in low-income communities.
  5. Efforts to change the governance of public schools will not result in the infusion of needed resources and will shift responsibility for providing a sound public education away from the state and towards financially struggling parents.
  6. School takeover policies in other states have failed to raise student achievement and have created disruptions for students, parents, and community members.
  7. High-quality opportunities for all students require additional resources, including better access to health and social services, early childhood education, and academic enrichment programs, which are the cornerstone of improved outcomes for Ohio’s children.
  8. The Senate budget amendment plans to use the $125 million the House allocated for wraparound services to expand the Ed Choice program that provides school vouchers for students and to increase eligibility for more children to attend private and parochial schools using state funds.

Ohio legislators should reject HB 70 and keep HB 154 language in the budget. HB 154 offers support for lower performing school districts; it was designed to dissolve and replace academic distress commissions and to encourage wraparound services for high-poverty schools. House Bill 154 is an evidence-based model that was created using results from a 5-year research study of school turnaround by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in MA.

Those field-tested results are the basis for the language of HB 154 as it addresses the concerns of educators, school district leaders, and community members. HB 154 was passed in a broad, bipartisan manner (83-12) and provides a pathway for local districts and communities to determine the needs of their districts, including a plan to get there.

TOGETHER we must speak up for our local school districts and stop Ohio’s state leaders from removing the language of House Bill 154 from the state budget!

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Dawn’s Story

I am a public school teacher in Oberlin, Ohio. As I do year after year, I had my fifth-graders write editorials for the Newspaper in Education contest sponsored by our local Chronicle-Telegram newspaper. And as I always do, I gave the students free choice to choose their topics and to come up with their own polished submissions.

When so many of them started writing about testing, I freaked out a little because prior to this month’s AIR testing, I had rarely even mentioned the topic to them, refusing to stress them out about the upcoming three weeks of testing. I sent some of their work to our principal with a note that said, in so many words, “Holy smokes, look at what these kids are saying. I promise that I haven’t been stressing them out about these tests!” She wrote back saying she thought their submissions sounded just fine.

I’m so thankful to have a principal who values our students’ feelings.

When I talked to the kids about the testing, I told them how surprised I was by their topic choices and asked why they were feeling so worried. After all, I told them, I had barely mentioned the topic and told them I’d be the last person to put pressure on them or try to stress them out. One student told me, “You are working with the wrong kids, Mrs. Randall. You don’t have to stress us out. We stress ourselves out enough for all of us.”

They then started sharing stories about last year’s PARCC test, when they tested on and off from February through May when they were in 4th-grade. They shared about how scared they were that they wouldn’t pass the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee reading test the year before that and then fail the entire year. Ohio legislation is insane.

But worst of all, one student said, “This is the third new kind of test we’ve had in three years. When will Ohio get this right?”

This same student was the one who took it upon himself to go to the Ohio Department of Education website on his Chromebook and research his topic and find out that some schools were able to still do paper/pencil tests, and he was pretty upset that he couldn’t.

I sent a note to the newspaper staff member about all their submissions and she told me to please not censor their writing, but to send it all in. She wanted to see it all.

Today, I opened the newspaper supplement to these two student submissions ruling a whole spread. Apparently, the judges heard them loud and clear and felt their words needed to be heard by our community.

All this high-stakes testing is really starting to take a toll on kids. When will our legislature hear and care about their voices?

Each child in my class is the SAME child who has been forced to sit through high-stakes testing year after year after year. When will enough be enough?

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