Ohio Republicans aim to merge education agencies, give governor power


A Republican-backed bill introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, would combine Ohio’s departments of preK-12 education, higher education and workforce development into a single agency led by a governor-appointed director.

The new Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA) would be aimed at “better aligning Ohio’s public education system with the state’s workforce needs” according to a news release from House Republicans.

Gov. John Kasich spoke in favor of the idea two weeks ago, but with Kasich’s term ending this year, Ohio’s next governor, to be elected in November, might appoint the first director if this bill becomes law. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee or had any hearings.

RELATED: State board calls for graduation changes

House Republicans argued that a unified, cohesive department would make Ohio more “fluid and flexible” in preparing students to succeed in the future. The bill would give the DLA director authority to appoint deputy directors to streamline policy development and implementation. That would take current policy roles away from the state school board – narrowing the authority of the 19-member body – 11 of whom are elected by the public.

Education stakeholders were varied in their reaction to the bill.

Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy at the Fordham Institute, said creating an agency under the direct oversight of the governor would ensure that governors are publicly accountable for executing Ohio education laws.

RELATED: Dayton “talent hub” plan aims at more than diplomas

“These changes would ensure that our next governor will truly have the ability to shape the direction of education and should result in more coherent policies and greater continuity,” Aldis said.

But leaders of three top school organizations – the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) – voiced concerns with the plan, ranging from the responsiveness of a larger bureaucracy to its ability to manage complex school funding.

“The proposal would move decisions about important topics such as setting the state’s learning standards, graduation requirements for students and school district report cards to a politically appointed staff as opposed to the current process that includes many opportunities for public input,” OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said.

RELATED: Schools push students to map their futures

The groups added that the proposed structure could cause major uncertainty for local schools every time a new governor is elected and appoints a new leader.

Greg Edinger, superintendent of two northern Ohio career tech centers, spoke in support of the bill at a press conference Wednesday.

“The focus on workforce and career preparedness at an early age aligns with our district goals and is essential for moving forward and addressing the critical workforce demands our state is seeing,” Edinger said.

RELATED: Schools urged to teach more “soft skills”

Democratic State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, who is running for governor with state school board member Stephanie Dodd as his running mate, called the move a “power grab” by Republicans seeking to weaken the elected state school board.

“There’s no excuse for taking control from Ohio voters and giving it to yourself – especially when it comes to our children’s education,” Schiavoni said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Teen admits to killing Memphis couple, setting apartment on fire
Teen admits to killing Memphis couple, setting apartment on fire

An arrest has been made after a Memphis couple was found dead in an apartment that went up in flames Thursday afternoon. >> Read more trending news  Aareon Berryman, 18, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, possession of marijuana with the intent to manufacture or sell...
Britney Spear’s ex K-Fed wants child support increase amid star’s Vegas success
Britney Spear’s ex K-Fed wants child support increase amid star’s Vegas success

After seeing how successful her four-year Las Vegas residency has been, Britney Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline is asking for an increase in child support. >> Read more trending news  Federline’s attorney reportedly sent the pop singer a letter recently indicating that he would like to renegotiate the $20,000...
New tests, including blood check, could help doctors diagnose autism
New tests, including blood check, could help doctors diagnose autism

A newly developed blood and urine test could potentially detect autism in young children. >> Read more trending news  That’s according to new research from scientists in the United Kingdom and Italy who conducted tests in search for damage to proteins previously known to be higher in children with autism spectrum disorders. The study...
Check for recall announcements for golf carts, pots, candles & more
Check for recall announcements for golf carts, pots, candles & more

A kettle, fire pit, bleeding candles and golf carts are among the new recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission: The handles on some Whirlpool KitchenAid electric kettles could come loose and cause the liquid inside to burn you.  There are three reports of minor burns and a total of 79 reports of the handles separating. ...
Weekend to bring more rain, threat for strong storms
Weekend to bring more rain, threat for strong storms

While much of the area is getting a break from steady rain Friday night, another wave will arrive toward daybreak. Storm Center 7 meteorologists have been tracking multiple rounds of rain since Wednesday with several more to go. Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said the heaviest rain will arrive late Saturday. “We’ll likely see steady...
More Stories