During a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse on Feb. 14, State Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) unveiled legislation aimed at better aligning Ohio’s public education system with the state’s workforce needs, as well as making the state more accountable for achieving results.
Reineke’s proposal would create a new cabinet level agency called the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA), which will consist of the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. This structural change is not expected to have a direct impact on local school boards or school districts.
“Education is one of the state’s most important tasks and this legislation aligns our education systems to better prepare our workforce for the needs of today and tomorrow,” Reineke said. “I look forward to discussing this bill further with the education and workforce community with the goal of working together to ensure that Ohio’s students are ready and prepared for the future.”
By forming a unified, cohesive department to oversee all education and workforce development policy, Ohio will be more fluid and flexible in preparing the state’s 1.7 million students to succeed both educationally and professionally, as well as to meet the workforce needs of the rapidly changing 21st century economy.
The changes contained in the legislation closely resemble similar reforms made in 2007 to the state’s higher education model, in which oversight of state-supported colleges and universities transitioned from a nine-member Board of Regents to the Chancellor of the University System of Ohio.
Several education and workforce development leaders from Seneca and Sandusky counties joined Rep. Reineke, as well as a number of other House lawmakers supportive of the proposal.
Greg Edinger, Superintendent of Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Centers, expressed support for the proposal and explained how it can prepare Ohio’s workforce for the demands of tomorrow.
“There can be great value in multiple agencies working under one umbrella with the goal of developing policy to align the education systems,” Edinger said. “This focus on workforce and career preparedness at an early age aligns with the goals of our district and is essential for moving forward and addressing the critical workforce demands our state is seeing.”
Gary Barber, Superintendent of Tiffin City Schools, emphasized how the legislation can lead to long-term success by helping students prioritize both education and career readiness.
“This will help set a higher bar for career preparation programs, enabling all students to earn meaningful postsecondary degrees or credentials,” Barber said. “This will continue to challenge our K-12 systems to be simultaneously focused on curriculum and our students’ aspirational career goals.”
“I can clearly and confidently tell you that I support the principles and spirit of this new workforce and education restructuring bill, and the intent to create a Department of Learning and Achievement, which brings together K-12 education policy, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation,” said David Zak, President and CEO of Seneca Industrial & Economic Development Corp. “It brings together two of the most important producers of talent—K-12, higher education, and the largest user of talent—growing private sector businesses represented by the Office of Workforce Transformation.”
Jim Lahoski, Superintendent and CEO of the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, said the bill will “enhance opportunities for all students to be prepared for success.”
“The bill further aligns to the Ohio State Board of Education's vision for all Ohio pre-K-12 students to graduate with the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to successfully continue their education and/or be workforce-ready and successfully participate in the global economy as productive citizens,” Lahoski said.
Under the legislation, which Reineke introduced today, the director of the DLA will be appointed by the governor with consent of the Senate. The director will have the authority to appoint deputy directors where deemed appropriate for purposes of streamlining pre-K-12 through workforce policy development and implementation.
The legislation makes no membership changes to the State Board of Education, but brings its duties more in line with other state boards and commissions and keeps its functions consistent with the state constitution. That includes primarily quasi-judicial responsibilities, such as regulating teacher licensure and educator misconduct. The State Board also will continue to appoint a State Superintendent.
Furthermore, the State Board of Education, State Superintendent and Ohio Department of Education staff will maintain the authority to:
- Revoke a district and/or school charter
- Issue educator licenses
- Establish payments in lieu of transportation determinations
- Make territory transfer determinations
- Supervise and administer Ch. 119 administrative proceedings regarding community schools and sponsors
- Determine the permanent exclusion of students
- Sponsor community schools in accordance with state law
- Oversee the state schools for the deaf and blind
- Administer other miscellaneous Ch. 119 administrative law proceedings
Having just been introduced, the bill will soon receive a number and be assigned to a House standing committee for further review.
Full footage of today’s press conference is available here: http://ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-education-bill-announcement