The proposal to eliminate the right to elect the members of Ohio’s State School Board, and shift to an all-appointed board, was discussed at the Statehouse at the February, 2016, Public Education and Information Committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC.)
Please consider testifying about the urgent need for an all-elected state school board.
Why must Ohio have an all-elected board?
In 1953, voters passed a constitutional amendment that established a state board of education and superintendent of public instruction to be appointed by that board, which indicated an intention to separate the Department of Education from the governor’s office. For thirty-five years the state BOE had just three different state superintendents, and there was a cooperative relationship between ODE and local school districts- until politics got in the way.
In 1991, politics reared its ugly head when the governor took over the role of selecting the state superintendent and began the process of trying to change the elected board to an appointed board. Politicians said that the state board had too many members, and legislation was passed to reduce the membership of the board to eleven elected members, one for each group of three senate districts.
That didn’t satisfy politicians, who were angered when our elected school board members endorsed the DeRolph lawsuit alleging that the legislature and governor were not adequately funding public education. As a result of that litigation, politicians created a hybrid board in 1995, where eight members would be appointed by the governor, and eleven members would be elected by Ohio voters.
The addition of politics resulted in several negative changes for public education in Ohio. Our state experienced a rapid turnover in state superintendents compared to the past, when only three superintendents served for 35 years. A strained association with local school districts gradually developed, and their once mutually cooperative relationship became a thing of the past. Worst of all, the state school board and the superintendent were pressured into promoting the education agenda of the legislative majority, rather than advocating for Ohio’s school children.
POLITICS has created a bad situation for the Buckeye state’s public schools and their families.
The president of the state school board, a politically appointed member, was right when he said, “The board has become more about politics in recent years, and the partisanship and splintered structure make it difficult for the superintendent, who is hired by the board but essentially reports to several bosses.”
Good point! Let’s take the politics back out of the equation by removing the concept of a hybrid board that has politically appointed members.
Ohio needs an ALL-ELECTED state board of education that consists of elected members from logically configured districts. This board would be charged with:
*acting without regard to partisan politics
*selecting a superintendent independent of the governor and other elected officials
*insisting that ODE staff have appropriate educational qualifications and experience
*demanding total transparency and accountability of the superintendent and ODE staff
Say NO to POLITICS, and return to the independent representative school board created by voters over 60 years ago, when Ohio’s State Board of Education was an all-elected, non-partisan, cooperative educational panel that advocated for traditional public school districts.
We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together we will save PUBLIC EDUCATION.