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Rep. Bishoff, education leaders discuss funding, transparency, testing reforms at public forum

Panelists engage citizens, offer insight prior to start of new school year
August 12, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

State Rep. Heather Bishoff  (D-Blacklick) this week joined former First Lady Dr. Frances Strickland, President of the Reynoldsburg City School Board Joe Begeny and Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer for a public forum to discuss the state of education in Ohio as students, teachers and parents prepare for the upcoming school year. The local community leaders discussed education funding for Ohio schools, public school oversight vs. charter school oversight and statewide testing standards.

“According to our most recent funding formula, every student should receive $6,000 from the State of Ohio toward their education. However, the formula caps schools that have grown quickly from receiving the full funding amount. To compound the cost to taxpayers, every school—regardless of how much financial assistance they receive from the state—must pay out the entire $6,000 per student to a charter if a student leaves their home school,” said Rep. Bishoff. “This has cost schools and taxpayers in Central Ohio millions of dollars that should be going toward our children's education. Now, more than ever, we must change the conversation from the assessment of our teachers and the value of our properties to focusing on our children's academic achievement. I look forward to continue working with communities to ensure that our children are prepared for future success in Ohio.”

Last year, lawmakers passed House Bill (HB) 2, bipartisan legislation to significantly reform Ohio’s troubled charter school system. HB 2 will increase transparency and accountability for both charter school sponsors and management companies to ensure students receive the quality education they deserve.

“It’s great that we are at a place where we can recognize these issues and discuss real charter school reform,” said Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Steve Dyer. “The sad truth is that Ohio is still far behind other states like Massachusetts in creating an education system that works in the interests of students, teachers and parents alike.”

Panel members also discussed the unfair burdens placed on teachers working in the public education system due to state’s testing requirements and lack of funding. Standardized test scores can account for up to 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation in Ohio —one of the most rigorous standards in the country.

“The problem with standardized testing is that these tests take a one-size-fits-all approach that just does not work for a classroom full of individualized, unique students,” said Reynoldsburg Board of Education President Joe Begeny. “At this point, are we teaching for the sake of testing or are we teaching for the sake of learning?”

For the third time in three years, Ohio students will face a different standardized test during the upcoming 2016-17 school year. Former First Lady of Ohio and educational psychologist Dr. Frances Strickland believes standardized testing does not exhibit a student’s full learning potential or the teacher’s teaching abilities.

“In my conversations with families and teachers, I’ve come to understand that the issue with Ohio’s education system is not at the fault of the teachers, it’s the cookie cutter, manufacturing assembly line approach that we take to educate students,” said Dr. Strickland. “We need to look at our students for who they are and how we can help them become the best version of themselves.”

The public education panel took place as online charter schools have recently been in the headlines. In July, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block an annual attendance audit after a preliminary audit conducted by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) showed that most students were not logging in for at least five hours a day – a requirement to continue receiving state funding. ECOT, the state’s largest online charter school, has consistently collected over $100 million in taxpayer dollars each year while public school funding has flat lined over the last five years.