Terry Ryan testifies in support of budget bill provisions

By now it should be no surprise to anyone that Ohio is the midst of a financial crisis, and that schools will undoubtedly feel the brunt of this. School districts around the state must cope with the end of federal stimulus money as well as tangible personal-property tax replacement payments to schools. With hearings about the budget (HB153) underway, Terry testified before the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education last week to offer support for certain reform provisions, while also urging the Ohio Legislature to think bigger and bolder in some areas.

Terry offered support for:

  • The creation of Innovation Schools/ Zones, which would allow schools to achieve cost savings and greater efficiencies by allowing them to seek waivers from some state laws.
  • The expansion of school choice. He praised the fact this budget would hold charter schools and their sponsors more accountable for their performance, but cautions that many details still need to be worked out and refined.
  • The expansion of the EdChoice scholarship. He offered support for the proposed expansion of the voucher program, but called for the academic performance of private schools to be tracked and evaluated. As it currently stands documentation of academic performance of private schools is not required. Schools that receive public funding should be sanctioned to the same criteria as public school and use academic data to determine the success or failure of their academics.
  • Capitalizing on effective teachers, what Terry argues are the most valuable tool that the state has. That being said, Ohio must create an evaluation system that gets rid of arbitrary terms such as ?satisfactory? and ?unsatisfactory,? and reward teachers based on their performance instead of credentials and seniority.

While there are certainly good provisions in HB153, there is still much work to be accomplished as Terry points out. Ohio already has a lot of good things in place to build upon, such as value-added data and RttT funds. Ohio must use this opportunity to build upon measures we already have in place and to ensure that all children will receive the best education possible.

To read Terry's testimony in its entirety click here.

-Bianca Speranza

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