State rep. says Ohio citizens should control state education plan

According to Rep. Theresa Gavarone, House Bill 235 puts the power of controlling the standards into the hands of Ohioans

standardized testing school generic

COLUMBUS (WKBN) – For years, there has been a lot of talk about what our kids should be learning and how those goals and standards are measured.

In 2015, the U.S. Congress replaced the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with the Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Act.

While NCLB may be gone, the hallmark of it — standardized testing — is here to stay under ESSA.

ESSA grants the states control to determine academic standards. Republican Ohio House of Representatives member Theresa Gavarone wants lawmakers to have the final say in what the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) comes up with.

“We’ve been elected by our constituents and as representatives, we should have a say when policies are created that affects our educational system,” she said.

According to the federal act, ODE is required to submit an education plan to the federal government — that happened Monday.

Should Gavarone’s bill make it into law, legislators could block the implementation of an ESSA plan if legislators disapprove of it.

“There have been a lot of major overhauls. I think some consistency and predictability is something that our educators and our superintendents are hoping to find,” Gavarone said.

According to her, this bill puts the power of controlling the standards into the hands of Ohioans.

“The people that they elect to represent them will be able to hear their concerns about these issues and have a voice. It gives them a say through their representative,” Gavarone said.

The Ohio Department of Education declined to comment on this bill, per its policy.

An elected member of the state board of education, however, said it neither supports nor opposes the bill because, in their mind, it appears to be a pointless piece of legislation. That’s because ODE is unlikely to submit another ESSA plan to the federal government.

The only reason they would is if the U.S. Department of Education requires changes or if state lawmakers changed an applicable law that would force a resubmission, which, as far as they know, is not currently on the table.

Because the bill requires ODE to submit the final plan to all members of both chambers’ education committees at least 30 days before it is submitted to the federal government and because the plan has already been submitted prior to the bill being anything but an idea, the board member questions the necessity for it. They say it neither hurts nor helps anything.

The Department of Education already meets and works with legislators serving on both education committees, as well as other stakeholders, when creating the plan that is submitted for ESSA. The governor signs off on it as well, according to the board member.

The redundancy of having other members of the legislature weigh in would be unnecessary, according to the board member.

This week, House Bill 235 was voted through the chamber and is now halfway through its journey to becoming law. It’s headed to the Senate for committee consideration.

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