A group of people held a press conference and announced a plan to have government control Ohio’s K-12 public schools, public universities and workforce systems. This link will take you to a video of the press conference. After watching the video you’ll have the choice to:
Collapse, Share or Buy DVD. I chose Collapse with the hope that it would make the idea disintegrate, collapse it entirely or make it simply go away…it didn’t work.
This proposal concerns me as a public school superintendent and Ohio Citizen for many reasons. Philosophically I believe in limited government control which probably puts me on the conservative side, however we’re all connected and people deserve a “heart” and a “hand” so I generally fall within the moderate political range. This blog will have 2 parts. One that IS and one that IS NOT political. Regardless of the version, this plan IS completely foolish from both perspectives.
Part 1: How IS This Political and Why is it a bad idea?
While I’m not really certain how it occurred or when it transpired, but those holding the majority thought it acceptable to abandon their roots, take off their gloves and sink their claws deep into public education. Today they must have grown a 3rd arm and another hand for claws because Workforce Development is getting the Wolverine treatment as well.
Apparently limited government control is philosophically embraced for subjects such as tax structures, finance, business development and so on, however for whatever reason, public education has remained fair game. For some time now, superintendents, local school boards and citizens in Ohio have clearly said they want local autonomy, yet some of Ohio’s Representatives fail to hear them (or should it be, care to hear them).
In Ohio, we have a government controlled public education system. While some of the State School Board Members are elected, there are some that hold political office in this state that are elected by you who do not want you to be able to choose who should represent your interests and the interests of your region as it relates to public education. They would rather have public education be controlled by the Ohio General Assembly or have it now be centrally controlled by some Super Group that they are putting together.
Examples of government control by a party (of which I am a member, although I’m not even really sure what that means these days) are hidden in plain sight. For instance, the Governor’s Office appoints some Ohio State School Board members; the Governor writes policy into budget bills that specifically directs Ohio’s schools, and most recently, a group of people (none of whom are actually in charge of running the organizations they are seeking to take over or have experience in how they operate–the Ohio Dept. of Education; the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Department of Jobs & Family Services) want to create a SUPER bureaucracy to oversee the 3 offices. Let’s be honest…this is a take over.
If you care about government overreach (and you should), I would encourage you to watch this news conference. The representative speaking actually used the phrase–“crib to career.” One of the superintendents in the video, who does not speak for those that I know in my position, said, “no longer are we in a position to graduate our students, wish them well and hope they go out and discover their passion…it’s our responsibility to make sure our students have a successful transition.” You’re DANG right…that’s been our job for a while and my school district (and we’re not an anomaly) does not need the Ohio General Assembly to neuter the 3 organizations that help to provide that support and pay them to still walk around like they’re still real and relevant to us.
If you want to help students discover their passions and assist with their successful transition from high school, then engage your community and put the structures in place to help them dream, think, explore, discover and explore some more. Don’t rely on government and the Ohio House of Representatives to create a plan to merge 3 organizations into one and then continue to use your tax dollars to keep everyone stay afloat. There is so much to fix with K-12 education– accountability, school funding, College Credit Plus, creating more formidable higher ed pathways that lead to jobs…why are you creating new problems?
Proposed Ohio Senate Bill 216 demonstrated how a collaborative effort between Ohio’s elected officials and those leading school districts at the local level can work. While some things still need ironed out, its purpose was to deregulate and provide more local control. This proposed unification plot is an uninformed and unparalleled political takeover of Ohio’s educational system. It doesn’t distribute the power, the decision making, and it certainly doesn’t improve the outcomes for Ohio’s students.
Ask yourself, will the proposed bill by the Ohio House that seeks to take control of Ohio’s Pre-16 educational system and workforce provide more local control or less local control? The answer is pretty clear (LESS!) and what will result is a person with a tremendous amount of power over a great many people; the power to completely politicize our educational system under the banner of “workforce ready.”
Should the state and federal government work collaboratively with business to determine what skills and dispositions could strengthen our workforce and make us more globally competitive? They should. Is it government’s job to direct the K-12 and University education systems in order to plug gaps in the current workforce? It is not. Is it the government’s role to say, “we need 30 mechanical engineers, 7 writers, 20 CNC machinists, 10 baristas and 4 ditch diggers (because Judge Smails said the world would always need them)? Absolutely not! It doesn’t matter what political party you like to call home. While this idea of unification seems to be coming from a particular political party, this isn’t about party affiliation. A bad idea is a bad idea and when the genesis of it comes from the political party that beats the “less government” drum, it is disturbing at best.
Ohio deserves more from its elected officials and it certainly deserves better.
~more to come