In Ohio and across the nation, education is not only a hot topic of discussion, but it is an issue of the utmost importance. Our children are the future of this country, and it is crucial that our educational system caters to the needs of our families and communities, allowing local control and individualized decision making. In Ohio, the state legislature has been hard at work to ensure that various options for the education of our children provide quality instruction while remaining accountable.
During the 131st General Assembly, community school reform legislation was enacted, and according to a recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the reforms we enacted have put the state on the right track. The landmark legislation strives to improve oversight, demand accountability, and increase transparency of Ohio’s community schools. By reducing the number of sponsor conflicts of interest and strengthening reporting and performance standards, Ohio’s community school sector is becoming more transparent and more focused on quality.
In fact, after these reforms were implemented, 39 out of 65 sponsors in Ohio were deemed ineffective and were prohibited from opening new schools and 21 sponsors were poorly rated and forced to close. As a result, Ohio’s community schools can become a stronger sector of our educational system with the opportunity to improve and make adjustments for the betterment of our children. At the end of the day, regardless of a public (traditional or community), private, or career-technical pathway, our goal in the state legislature is to improve learning opportunities and standards for our students—from kindergarten through higher education—so that our state can continue to thrive.
This year’s upcoming biennial operating budget presents an opportunity to maintain and evolve the work we’ve done to make education in Ohio among the best in the nation and even the world. From addressing school funding to encouraging innovation, the Ohio House will make this issue a priority so that we may continue on the right path. Our children deserve the best chance to succeed, and by devoting attention to our schools during this legislative term, I am confident that proper policies will be approved to achieve this goal.
Since the recession in 2007, the development of our workforce has been imperative, and the connection between education and our workforce has never been more vital. In order to expand the skills of our workforce for the multitude of jobs that need filled now, we must focus our attention on our students. By increasing options for families to make the appropriate education decisions for their children, our future workforce can be better primed for success.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.