The boards of education in the 613 Ohio school districts represent the same geographic territory and citizens as the governor and legislature. Boards of education are the fourth branch of government established to deliver quality education opportunities for all the children of all the people. Boards hire administrators and teachers to provide these opportunities.
Governors and legislators should depend heavily on boards of education and their employees when formulating education policy. Prior to the last three decades, school personnel had substantial and consequential involvement in education policy formulation. Since the early 1990s in Ohio, governors and legislatures have depended more heavily on edicts from Washington, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), anti-public education think tanks and major foundations such as Gates and the Walton family for advice and direction in education policy development.
Prior to the Voinovich administration, Ohio superintendents and key staff members attended an annual August back-to-school convocation conducted by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). It was a very collegial event during which there was dialogue regarding contemporary education practices and policies. ODE officials encouraged local education leaders to participate in policy discussions during State Board of Education meetings and legislative sessions. Local school leaders, individually and in large numbers, frequented the Statehouse legislative sessions.
Governor Voinovich, who served in the 1990s, was an astute politician and understood the power of the school superintendency. For whatever reasons, Mr. Voinovich instructed his handpicked Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ted Sanders, to keep the school superintendents out of Columbus. With the possible exception of one year, ODE has not had a statewide back-to-school convocation in August since the Voinovich edict.
Currently, ODE does not encourage local school leaders to frequent the Statehouse.
The grassroots-driven Superintendents’ Rally at the Ohio Statehouse on November 15 at 10:00 AM is an encouraging signal that local school leaders in masse are becoming engaged in the formulation of education policy.
Reengagement of local school district leaders is essential for the improvement of public education and for ending the encroachment of the privatization of public education. The privatizers, along with their charter school allies and political minions have had a stranglehold on public education policy for about two decades. This Rally is the first step to returning public policy regarding education back to the professionals who are on the front line of educating children on a daily basis.
Public education advocates are urged to support the superintendents in this turning point in history.
~William Phillis, Ohio E & A, http://ohiocoalition.org/listings.php?category=machining&listing=about_us