Legislative Watch

OEA Legislative Watch is the association’s newsletter covering the legislation and policies that affect public education employees.

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2023-2024 | 135th Ohio General Assembly

Contact Your Member of Congress About the Need to Repeal GPO/WEP
 
Federal legislation is needed to repeal the unjust Social Security offsets that unfairly punish public service workers in states like Ohio. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) are provisions of federal law that reduce the earned Social Security, spousal, and survivor benefits of those who also collect a public pension from states that do not pay into Social Security. Because Ohio is a non-Social Security state, many teachers, education support professionals and other public servants are adversely impacted by GPO/WEP.
   
The Social Security Fairness Act (House Resolution 82 and Senate Resolution 597) proposes to fully repeal GPO/WEP. NEA and OEA strongly support the legislation.  U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is a primary sponsor of S. 597 and has submitted a bill to repeal GPO/WEP during the last several sessions of Congress.
  
HR 82 has overwhelming bi-partisan support with over 304 co-sponsors (more than half of Congress). However, action is needed to progress the bill forward. Specifically, we are calling on the House Ways and Means Committee to hold a “mark-up” session for the bill. This is an important next step.
 
Ohio has two members of this vital committee: Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-2nd District) and Mike Carey (R- 15th District). We encourage OEA members in those districts to contact their representative and urge them to call for a mark-up of HR 82. To look up your congressional district, please click here.
 
To contact U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup, please dial 202-225-3164 

To contact U.S. Representative Mike Carey, please dial 202-225-2015 

OEA members in other districts can express their support for the bill by using the NEA action alert click here

For more information about the impact of GPO and WEP, please click here.

Ohio General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto of HB (House Bill) 68 

Last month, the Ohio General Assembly voted to override Governor DeWine’s veto of House Bill (HB) 68.  OEA is opposed to HB 68, and supported Governor DeWine’s veto and opposed the veto override of HB 68 by the Ohio General Assembly. HB 68 creates unnecessary regulations that limit student participation in high school and collegiate athletic teams. The bill would discriminate against some students by establishing an absolute prohibition on transgender female participation on teams designated only for female participants. OEA has long stood for policies that are inclusive of students regardless of race, class, gender, or identity. 
 
The proposed regulations in HB 68 conflict with existing policies adopted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA). Current OHSAA policy allows transgender female participation on a female-designated sports team under certain conditions but does not have an absolute bar on participation for these students. The NCAA policy calls for transgender student-athlete participation policies to be determined by the national governing body of each sport. OEA recommended that the State defer to the governing bodies of student athletics and not enact laws that contain unnecessary regulations that limit student participation. 

The Ohio House voted to override Governor DeWine’s veto of HB 68 by a vote of 65-28; the Ohio Senate did the same by a vote of 24-8.  Copies of the OEA’s letter urging the Ohio General Assembly to not override Governor DeWine’s veto of HB 68 may be found HERE (Ohio Senate) and HERE (Ohio House).

House Passes Resolution on GPO and WEP Repeal; Passes Bill Regarding STRS Board Elections and Student Teacher Eligibility

On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, the Ohio House voted unanimously in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 6 (HCR 6). The resolution, jointly sponsored by Representatives Angela King (R-Celina) and Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), urges Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). GPO and WEP are provisions of federal law that unfairly punish public servants by reducing their earned Social Security, spousal, and survivor benefits when they also collect a public pension from states that do not pay into Social Security. Because Ohio is a non-Social Security state, many teachers, education support professionals, and other public servants are adversely impacted by GPO and WEP. OEA and NEA continue advocacy in Congress to repeal these unfair and punitive provisions of federal law. OEA strongly supports HCR 6 and is grateful that the Ohio House is calling for this needed change. To view OEA’s floor letter on HCR 6 click here. HCR 6 passed the Ohio House with a vote of 85-0. The resolution now heads to the Senate for its consideration.

Click here to send your member of Congress a letter urging them to support GPO and WEP repeal.

Also on Wednesday, the House passed another piece of legislation dealing with retirement issues. House Bill 78, jointly sponsored by Representatives Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Joe Miller (D-Amherst), makes some adjustments to the State Teachers Retirement System. The bill would allow rehired retirees to run for a retiree seat on the STRS Board. Additionally, the bill would provide STRS membership to student teachers who hold a pre-service teacher permit and earn compensation as substitute teachers. OEA supports HB 78. To view OEA’s proponent testimony on HB 78 from the June 13, 2023, Ohio House Pensions Committee click here. The bill passed the Ohio House 89-0 and will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

Please Continue your Advocacy Opposing SB 83, the Higher Education “Destruction” Act

As a reminder, Senate Bill 83 was favorably reported by the House Higher Education Committee with a narrow vote of 8 to 7. The bill was allowed to pass from committee because Representative Gayle Manning, who previously told OEA and partners that she opposed SB 83 but changed her vote to a yes vote days before the committee’s final consideration. In response to her decision, OEA sent Rep. Manning a letter expressing OEA’s disappointment with her “yes” vote on SB 83. OEA urges members to call her office to express their disappointment with her vote, urge her to publicly oppose SB 83, and ask that she vote “no” on SB 83 if it comes up for a vote before the full Ohio House. To connect with Rep. Manning’s office please call 614-644-5076.

We need to keep up our advocacy to make sure SB 83 is stopped in the Ohio House. Please send your state representative a letter urging them to oppose SB 83 by clicking here.

Senate Bill 83 Narrowly Passes out of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee

Less than 24 hours before the House Higher Education Committee was to meet, Chairman Tom Young (R-Washington Township) amended the committee agenda to place Substitute Senate Bill 83 on the agenda for a possible vote.  The following morning, Substitute Senate Bill 83 was passed by a vote of 8-7.  In an underhanded move, Chair Young prohibited committee members from offering bill amendments or making comments regarding the bill.  Representative Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) who previously indicated that she was a “no” vote on SB 83 switched her vote and voted “yes” to favorably report the bill. OEA is deeply disappointed and dissatisfied with Representative Manning’s vote and ask that you call her office to express your disappointment in her vote.  Rep. Manning’s office number is 614-644-5076.  Representatives Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County) and Justin Pizzulli (R-Scioto County) joined with the committee’s Democratic members in voting “no.”
 
Substitute Senate Bill 83, known as the Higher Education “Destruction” Act, is a sweeping piece of legislation that will eliminate collective bargaining rights of higher education faculty over certain working conditions and harm academic freedom on Ohio’s public university and college campuses. This bill represents the largest attack on collective bargaining rights since Senate Bill 5 in 2011.
 
The bill now heads to the Ohio House Rules and Reference committee to determine its fate for full House consideration. OEA urges you to continue to make your voice heard on this unpopular bill. If you haven’t already, please contact your Ohio House member using the online Action Alert and urge them to oppose this bill. 

Senate Bill 83 Continues to Receive Substantial Opposition

Last week the Ohio House Higher Education Committee held a hearing on Substitute Senate Bill 83. Over 130 professors, students, concerned citizens and organizations submitted opposition testimony while there were only seven proponents to the measure. You may view OEA’s opposition testimony here. Additionally, Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens stated that the bill doesn’t have enough support to get through the Ohio House. You may read the article here.

While the substitute bill removed an earlier provision which prohibited faculty and other higher education employees from striking, the measure retains language that prohibits higher education faculty unions from bargaining on evaluations, tenure, and retrenchment policies. Additionally, it includes language that micromanages higher education classrooms and threatens academic freedom. OEA believes that these policies are best developed locally by faculty and administration determining systems that work best for their campuses.

OEA remains focused on urging the Ohio House of Representatives to reject Substitute Senate Bill 83. Please contact your State Representative to urge them to oppose Substitute SB 83. To look up your State Representative’s contact information, please visit https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/ and type in your address in the search bar under “Who Represents Me?” SB 83 is bad for students, higher education, and the future of Ohio.

OEA Launches Updated Legislative Scorecard

OEA is excited to announce its newly updated Legislative Scorecard. At last year’s Fall Representative Assembly, OEA was charged with updating its legislative scorecard per New Business Item (NBI) #FA-2022-1, known as the “Know Your Legislator” NBI. The 2023 Fall Representative Assembly, held on December 2, 2023, received a preview of the updated page during Vice President Jeff Wensing’s report.

The NBI required that:

OEA Staff and/or officers will rebrand, create strategies for promotion, and add to the functionality of the OEA Legislative Scorecard website to allow for increased member engagement in legislative advocacy and member lobbying. The increased functionality shall create the ability for reviewing important priority legislation OEA tracks that is relevant to education, the legislator/s who proposed it, and how legislators voted on it.

After OEA governance and staff work throughout 2023, OEA’s scorecard has been updated and is now live. The new page provides members with an updated, user-friendly interface to navigate and explore legislative insights and how actions of the General Assembly impact public education. It also includes extended data so members can dive deep into legislative actions, and real-time updates to see the latest changes to legislative policies and decisions made by legislators.

To access the page, please click here. To download a promotional flyer that you can share with your colleagues please click here. If you have any questions about the new scorecard, please contact OEA Government Relations at govtsrv@ohea.org.

Take Action on GPO/WEP Repeal

The Social Security Fairness Act (House Resolution 82 and Senate Resolution 597) proposes to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). These are provisions of federal law that unfairly punish public service by reducing the earned Social Security, spousal, and survivor benefits of many retirees of public pension plans.

Together GPO and WEP deprive more than 2.7 million educators and other dedicated public servants of Social Security benefits. This includes more than 162,000 Ohioans who lose retirement benefits just because they dedicated their career to public service.

GPO and WEP discourage people from becoming educators, especially those in mid-career who stand to lose Social Security benefits they have already earned. That, in turn, can adversely affect the quality of the education our students receive and threatens the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.

Both OEA and NEA support the Social Security Fairness Act. The legislation has strong bi-partisan support in both chambers. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is a primary sponsor of S. 597 and has submitted a bill to repeal GPO/WEP during the last several sessions of Congress. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance has also signed on as a co-sponsor. Of the Ohio Congressional delegation, 11 out of the 15 members of the U.S. House from Ohio are co-sponsors of H.R. 82.

Momentum is building for H.R. 82 as it had a field hearing on November 20th. Now it is time that the House Ways and Means Committee schedule a “mark-up session” for the bill. We are asking OEA members to contact the Ohio members of the House Ways and Means Committee to encourage them to push for a mark-up session for HR 82.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-2nd District) and Congressman Mike Carey (R-15th District), both from Ohio, serve on the House Ways and Means committee. If you live in either of these districts, please consider calling your U.S. Representative and urge them to push for a mark-up session for H.R. 82.

To contact U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup, please dial 202-225-3164

To contact U.S. Representative Mike Carey, please dial 202-225-2015

If you don’t know what congressional district you live in, please go to: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

To send a letter to your members of Congress urging them to repeal GPO and WEP, please click here.

OEA Testifies on Academic Intervention Legislation

On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, OEA offered interested party testimony on Senate Bill 162. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Andy Brenner (R- Delaware), would require school districts to provide academic intervention services to students who score “limited” on state assessments in math, English language arts, or both. These intervention services must be offered free of cost to the student and must not supplant the student’s core academic instructional time. The bill establishes that intervention services can be offered directly through the school, through a vendor, or a combination of both. The services can range from tutoring, additional instructional time, an extended school calendar, or other programs.

While supporting the intent of the legislation, OEA’s testimony raised several concerns about the bill. One concern is that the bill as introduced relied solely on a single test on a single day to identify students in need of intervention services. Educators have far more information about a student’s knowledge and capabilities than a single test score. During the hearing, a substitute bill was adopted that included language that allows schools to exempt students if they receive a grade of “C” or higher in the course and have scored at or above grade level on the last two diagnostic tests in the subject. This language was based on OEA’s recommendation.

A remaining concern about the legislation is that it does not apply to private schools that accept vouchers. OEA believes that students who attend private schools with tuition paid for by Ohio taxpayers should take the same tests as their public-school counterparts and the private schools should be held to the same requirements under the bill. Additional hearings on the bill and a potential committee vote are expected in December.

Senate Passes Bill Placing Insurance Limits on Dental Care

On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 115. The bill would prohibit dental insurance companies from having a contractual requirement with providers that limit charges for non-covered dental services. OEA opposes this bill as it will result in higher costs for members and their families. SB 115 passed with a vote of 22-8 and will now progress to the Ohio House for committee hearings and further consideration.

HB 214 – Legislation Requiring Local Professional Conduct

The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 214 by a vote of 64-30 on November 15, 2023. The bill requires school districts, charter schools, and STEM schools to adopt a policy against using statements of commitment to or soliciting or requiring specified individuals to affirmatively ascribe to, specific beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles concerning political movements, or ideology.

OEA opposes HB 214 because it risks creating a state mandated political censorship maze across Ohio’s 600-plus school districts and charter schools is in no one’s interest, least of all students. Further, the OEA believes that professional conduct guidance for educators is better addressed through the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators, which is developed by the Educator Standards Board and adopted by the State Board of Education, the professional licensing board for educators in Ohio.

Before the Ohio House voted on the bill, Rep. Sean Brennan (D-Parma) offered an amendment on the floor that would have required each local policy adopted under this division to comply with the licensure code of professional conduct. The House voted 62-32 not to consider the amendment. Joining Democrats voting to consider the amendment were two Republicans, Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Andrea White (R-Kettering). HB 214 was subsequently passed by a vote of 64-30, with Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) joining Democrats in voting ‘No.’

SB 168 – Ohio Senate Considers Wide-ranging “Deregulation” Proposals

OEA provided opponent testimony on SB 168 in the Ohio Senate Primary & Secondary Committee on November 14, 2023. The bill proposes wide-ranging regulatory statutory changes that intend to provide “regulatory flexibility” to schools and districts across the state. These changes would impact standards for hiring educators, teacher evaluations, professional development, dyslexia intervention training, nonteaching staff reductions, as well as eliminate numerous statutes the legislations deems “obsolete.”

Many of the changes contained in the bill would undermine the ability for Ohio’s students to have access to high-quality student services. To the extent some of the bill’s proposals seek to address educator shortages, OEA recommends avoiding approaches that lower hiring and licensure standards. OEA stands ready to work on comprehensive policies to address the root causes of education staff shortages (e.g. see OEA’s Educator Voice Academy recommendations on Teacher and Education Support Professional Recruitment and Retention) in ways that strengthen and support the education profession.

House Committee Adopts Substitute Bill to Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education “Destruction” Act

Last week, the “dash 11” version of Senate Bill (SB) 83 was accepted in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee. Notably, the substitute bill removes a provision prohibiting faculty and other employees from striking. While this is welcome news, the bill retains language that is anti-labor that prohibits higher education faculty unions from bargaining on evaluations, tenure, and retrenchment policies (see exception below). OEA firmly believes that these policies are best developed locally by faculty and administration determining systems that work best for their campuses.

Below is a summary of other key changes reflected in Substitute Senate Bill 83:

  • Adds an exception to the proposed prohibition against collectively bargaining on retrenchment policies to allow a higher education institution that has a collective bargaining agreement in effect on the bill’s effective date containing a provision on retrenchment to continue to bargain over retrenchment policies for new or renewed agreements for only faculty with between 30-35 years of service in a public retirement system.
  • Provides a broad definition of retrenchment which would make it easier for administrations to terminate academic programs and faculty positions.
  • Reduces the student evaluation portion of an annual faculty evaluation from 50% to 25%.
  • Adds an appeal process for final faculty evaluations.
  • Removes the requirement that institutions must change their mission statements to include certain language, and, instead, requires that language be included into a “statement of commitment.”
  • This language must include a declaration that it is “committed to not requiring, favoring, disfavoring, or prohibiting speech or lawful assembly.”
    Retains the prohibition on mandatory training and programs regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), unless it is required to comply with state and federal laws, professional licensure requirements, or to obtain or retain accreditation.
  • Removes the requirement that the Chancellor of Higher Education approve a request for an exemption from the prohibition on a mandatory DEI program and course.
  • Requires a state institution to provide a written report to the Chancellor summarizing all mandatory DEI programing and training at the state institution.
  • Requires institutions to establish complaint processes for perceived violations of the DEI policies, “intellectual diversity,” and “specified concepts.”
  • Removes references to “sexual orientation”, “gender identity,” or “gender expression” in the sections that require institutions to provide equal opportunity leaving only “race,” “ethnicity,” “religion,” and sex in those sections.
  • Allows community colleges to supply a “general syllabus” to satisfy the public syllabi component of the bill. A “general syllabus” for a course includes requirements for a calendar outlining what materials and topics will be and when they will be covered and a list of any required or recommended readings for the course.
  • Reduces the terms of office for state university board of trustee members from nine to six years. This provision only applies to state universities.
  • Requires a state institution, instead of the Chancellor, to develop a course with no fewer than three credit hours in American history or government.

OEA remains focused on urging the Ohio House of Representatives to reject Substitute Senate Bill 83. Please contact your State Representative to urge them to oppose Substitute SB 83. To look up your State Representative’s contact information, please visit https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/ and type in your address in the search bar under “Who Represents Me?”

REMINDER: NEA Action on Department of Labor Overtime Rules

As a reminder, the U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to expand overtime benefits, which are governed by the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to include earnings up to $55,000, currently, the overtime provision covers workers earning $35,000 and below. This change would impact an estimated 3.6 million workers nationwide, including education support professionals (ESPs) who make below $55,000, to qualify for overtime benefits. However, teachers and faculty are exempted from the current and proposed rules.

This proposed rule has many benefits, but it should also include overtime protections for classroom teachers and faculty! The deadline to comment on the proposed USDOL rule is, tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Click here to tell the Department of Labor that it is unfair to continue excluding dedicated teachers and faculty from overtime pay.

OEA Testifies in Opposition to Bill that would Confuse Educator Professional Standards

On October 17, 2023, OEA Secretary Treasurer Mark Hill delivered opponent testimony on House Bill (HB) 214 before the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. HB 214 would cause unnecessary distraction and confusion for educators, students, administrators, and parents by requiring vague and amorphous local censorship guidelines in Ohio’s 600 plus school districts and hundreds of charter schools. To read OEA’s opponent testimony to HB 214 click HERE.

After the hearing, House Primary and Secondary Education Committee Chairman, Representative Adam Bird (R-New Richmond), called an interested party meeting with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Adam Holmes (R-Nashport), Democratic members of the Committee, and representatives of the school administrative groups, to discuss concerns with the bill and propose amendments. This interested party process resulted in the acceptance of a substitute version of HB 214 on October 24, 2023. While the substitute bill made some improvements, OEA remains opposed to the legislation in its current format.

OEA Submits Written Opponent Testimony to School Bus Seat Belt Mandate Bill

On October 31, 2023, OEA President Scott DiMauro provided written opponent testimony on House Bill (HB) 279 to the Ohio House Transportation Committee. HB 279 would require seat belts to be installed on all school buses currently in use and all future school buses purchased. OEA has historically opposed mandatory seat belts in school buses, as buses are designed to be extremely safe without seat belts with the design concept of “compartmentalization.” In many cases, seat belts on school buses can increase the safety risk to students and dangerously limit the ability of school bus drivers to get students out of a bus after an accident.

Included with the written testimony were comments from OEA Education Support Professional (ESP) members expressing their concerns over the proposed legislation. OEA thanks Barb Armour and Jennifer Hein from Brunswick Educational Support Professionals Association, Stephanie Griffieth from Northeastern Local Association of School Employees (Clark County), and Margie Stevens from Lancaster School Support Association, for providing comments to support OEA’s opposition testimony on HB 279. To read a copy of OEA’s HB 279 opponent testimony and ESP member comments, click HERE.

NEA Action on Department of Labor Overtime Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to expand overtime benefits, which are governed by the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to include earnings up to $55,000. Currently, the overtime provision covers workers earning $35,000 and below. This change would impact an estimated 3.6 million workers nationwide, including education support professionals (ESPs) who make below $55,000.

Unfortunately, teachers and faculty would not benefit from this proposed change. Under the current and proposed rules, all teachers are exempted from overtime pay even if they earn a salary below the threshold. The only other workers who are excluded from the FLSA rules on overtime pay protections are doctors and lawyers. Both professions earn significantly more than teachers.

Excluding teachers from the FLSA’s protections will only serve to exacerbate the teacher shortage crisis at a time when teacher turnover has hit an all-time high. One of the main issues for the teacher shortage across the state is low pay and the “teacher pay penalty,” which is the gap between what teachers earn compared to similarly educated professionals.  Per an Economic Policy Institute Report, Ohio teachers make 14 percent on average less than those in similarly educated professions. And we know that teaching is not a profession contained only in a 40-hour work week. Many teachers work well past their contract workday. According to USDOE data, all full-time public-school teachers spend on average 52 hours per week on “teaching and all other school related activities,” while contracts only require 38.5 hours of work on average. This means that teachers do not receive compensation for a significant number of hours they spend working beyond their normal workday.

While the proposed rule has many benefits, it should also include overtime protections for classroom teachers and faculty to help close the teacher pay gap and address the teacher staffing crisis! Click here to tell the Department of Labor that it is unfair to continue excluding dedicated teachers and faculty from overtime pay.

U.S. Senator Brown Introduces Act Expanding Access to Locally Sourced Food in Schools

A group of bi-partisan legislators, including U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), introduced the Farm to School Act, which would support farmers and bring more fresh, locally grown foods to school lunchrooms across the country.

Senator Brown, joined by Maine U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R) and Virgin Island Delegate, U.S. Representative Stacey Plaskett (D), introduced the Act during National Farm to School Month.  In a press release from Senator Brown’s office on October 25, 2023, Senator Brown emphasized the importance of passing the Act for both farms and schools in Ohio.

“Ohio farmers grow some of the best produce in the country and farm to school programs help connect students with those fresh foods…[this] legislation will increase locally grown foods in our school lunchrooms while strengthening farms and rural communities in Ohio and across the country.”

Read the full release here.

Earlier this year, OEA and coalition partners were instrumental in expanding access to free school meals for thousands of Ohio students with the passage of HB 33, the state’s biennial operating budget for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025.  Under HB 33, students on the reduced meal schedule now qualify for free meals.  While this is a step in the right direction, OEA is committed to continuing to expand access to free meals for Ohio’s students. 

Senator Brown’s Farm to School Act supports our effort to expand student access to nutritious, free meals by ensuring that students have access to locally sourced, nutritious foods from Ohio farmers. The Act, if passed, would increase the Farm to School Grant Program funding from $5 million to $15 million per year, increase the maximum grant award to $500,000, and reduce barriers for applying for the grant by permitting the USDA the authority to modify or waive the current 25% non-federal matching requirement. Furthermore, the Act would help grantees improve procurement and distribution of local food and expand the scope of the program to include pre-schools, summer food service, and after-school programs.

A one-pager on the Farm to School Act of 2023 may be downloaded by clicking here.

U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Joins Senator Brown as a Co-Sponsor of Act to Repeal GPO/WEP

Ohio’s junior Senator, J.D. Vance, signed onto the bi-partisan Government Pension Offset/Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP) repeal legislation, known as the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 597/ H.R. 82), after meeting with OEA’s NEA Directors in a meeting at the end of September. 

The Act, sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would fully repeal the GPO and WEP. GPO and WEP impact more than 2.5 million Americans, and over 160,000 Ohioans, including many educators and their families.  WEP reduces Social Security benefits of educators who may have entered the education profession as a second career or that are compelled to take a part-time or summer job to make ends meet. GPO reduces (or eliminates) the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people who also get a pension based on federal, state, or local government employment (this includes educators in OPERS, SERS, and STRS) not covered by social security. To find out more about how GPO and WEP impacts workers in Ohio and nationally, please visit NEA’s resource library. GPO and WEP discourage people from becoming educators, especially those in mid-career, who stand to lose their Social Security benefits they have already earned.

OEA thanks U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown for continuing to be a strong advocate for educator retirement security and applauds U.S. Senator Vance and other members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation for signing onto the Act to repeal GPO and WEP. However, there are still four members of Ohio’s U.S. House Delegation that have yet to sign onto the legislation as a co-sponsor. These members are U.S. Representatives Warren Davidson (R-8), Jim Jordan (R-4), Bob Latta (R-5), and Brad Wenstrup (R-2). Please email your legislator to either urge their continued support of or to co-sponsor the Social Security Fairness act to fully repeal both GPO and WEP by clicking here.

 

Redistricting Commission Approves New Legislative Maps

On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new legislative districts for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. These district maps, if upheld, will be used in the upcoming 2024 election. Additionally, because the proposal received bipartisan support, the maps will remain in effect until after the 2030 census unless the current redistricting process is changed.

The approved maps give a massive advantage to Republicans, with 61 of 99 House districts and 23 of 33 Senate districts favoring Republican candidates. This represents even larger majorities than the districts used in 2022 which were ruled unconstitutional for disproportionately favoring one party. However, Democratic members of the Commission voted in favor of the new maps after securing some changes to those initially proposed. The prevailing thought is that new maps are likely to be upheld given changes on the Ohio Supreme Court since the last election.

Approval of these legislative districts happened against the backdrop of a planned campaign for a new constitutional amendment to take the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians altogether. A group called Citizens Not Politicians is planning an initiative campaign for the 2024 ballot that would replace the Ohio Redistricting Commission with a bipartisan commission of citizens tasked with drawing state legislative and congressional districts. The proposal is based on the premise that voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around. The OEA Board of Directors officially endorsed the Citizens Not Politicians ballot campaign at its September 23, 2023, meeting. More information about the campaign may be found here.

U.S. Senator Brown Introduces Legislation to Increase Federal Educator Tax Deduction; OEA and NEA Officially Endorse Brown’s Re-election

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently introduced the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation that seeks to quadruple the amount educators can deduct from their taxes for out-of-pocket classroom expenses. The current federal deduction for teachers is $250 and would increase to $1,000 under the legislation.

Senator Brown stated the following on the legislation, “Ohio educators shouldn’t have to dip into their too-small paychecks simply to do their jobs. We need to allow teachers to deduct more of those costs from their taxes, so they can ensure Ohio students get the education they deserve.” Please click here to read a press release from Senator Brown’s office on the proposal.

OEA and NEA are pleased to be supporting the bill.  It is also endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

The OEA Fund (for Children and Public Education) State Council (which is comprised of the OEA Officers, representatives from the OEA District Associations, the Board of Directors, and OEA-R) screened and recommended to the NEA PAC Council the endorsement of Senator Sherrod Brown in his re-election bid to the U.S. Senate next year. On Thursday, September 21, 2023, the NEA PAC Council confirmed the OEA-Fund State Council’s recommendation. Please note that all declared candidates from both major parties were invited to screen before the OEA Fund State Council, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was the only candidate to respond to the invite to screen.

Substitute SB 49 Would Rework Ohio Law Regarding Excused Student Absences

The Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee is now considering a new version of SB 49 (R-Reynolds) that reworks Ohio law governing excused student absences and makes changes to how the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is calculated on state report cards. The previous version of SB 49, as passed by the Ohio Senate, had been limited to providing students up to three excused absences for religious expression days. Religious expression days remain part of substitute SB 49 as a “legitimate excuse” for student absences. OEA is reviewing the changes to the bill.

The substitute version of SB 49 introduces several changes related to school attendance and graduation reporting:

  • It prevents schools from counting the first 60 hours of a student’s nonmedical legitimate excuse absences in a school year when determining excessive absences but requires them to count the 61st hour and subsequent hours as excessive absences.
  • It allows students absent for religious expression days to participate in interscholastic athletics on those days, with other absences for legitimate excuses subject to the school’s discretion regarding athletic participation.
  • The first 60 hours of legitimate excuse absences are considered excused and not factored into habitual truancy determinations.
  • “Legitimate excuse” is defined as an approved reason for a student’s absence, including illness, family illness, quarantine, death of a relative, medical appointments, religious expression days, college visits, military enlistment reporting, foster care placement, student homelessness, deployment activities of a parent, guardian, or custodian, 4-H and FFA activities, exceptional farm work, family business inability to employ help, and other circumstances determined by school officials as good and sufficient cause for absence.
  • The Department of Education and Workforce cannot include absences with legitimate excuses when calculating the state report card’s chronic absenteeism indicator for schools.
  • The four-year adjusted cohort graduate rate is changed from a performance measure factored into the state report card’s Graduation component to report-only data that doesn’t affect the performance rating.
  • A new performance measure, a four-year graduation measure, is established for the state report card’s Graduation component. It’s calculated similarly to the adjusted cohort graduation rate but excludes students with IEPs who qualify for a diploma but choose not to receive one and continue receiving education services.

OEA Summary of Final Budget Bill

On July 3, 2023, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years (FY) 2024 and 2025. OEA members, staff, and partners had been involved in the budget debate since the beginning of the year. And because of our combined advocacy, we were able to secure major gains in education funding and positive policy changes for public education, educators, and students in Ohio.

Because of our work to build a bloc of pro-public education, bi-partisan legislators in the Ohio House, the final budget bill contains the House-passed version of the Fair School Funding Plan.  This version updates the base cost inputs to FY 2022 and continues years three and four of the phase in of the plan (this was OEA’s top budget priority for the 135th General Assembly). It is estimated that this will increase public education funding by nearly $1 billion over the two-year period. We also were able to have an economically disadvantaged pupil cost study included in the final version of the bill. More details of the education funding changes are included in OEA’s summary of the as-passed version of HB 33.

Additionally, because of OEA member engagement and advocacy we were able to obtain the following positive public education policy changes: 

  • The act increases the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $35,000, creates a “Grow Your Own Teacher” program to help high need schools recruit and train qualified educators from their own staff and community, and makes other improvements to staff recruitment and retention policies.
  • The HB 33 conference committee removed the inclusion of Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education Destruction Act, from the final version of the bill. 
  • The act returns local control to Lorain City Schools. OEA advocated also for the removal of Youngstown City Schools and East Cleveland City Schools from their academic distress commissions, however, this was not included in the final version of HB 33. 
  • The act expands the free breakfast and lunch program to any student who qualifies for reduced meals, making major advances to combat childhood hunger.  
  • And finally, after years of advocacy from OEA members across the state, the Ohio General Assembly included OEA’s ask to end mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.  Parents and educators, not standardized test scores, will now determine whether a student should be retained or promoted under the program. Finally, the act provides for additional supports for students under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and creates a safe harbor provision allowing parents and educators to determine whether a student needs to be retained in the 2023-2024 school year. 

These gains in funding and improvements to education policy were only possible because of the thousands of members who wrote letters to and called their elected officials, as well as the members who participated in OEA Lobby Days throughout this budget cycle.

We would be remiss not to mention that while the state budget contained many positive changes, the Ohio Senate was able to include provisions that OEA vocally opposed throughout the budget process.  Namely, these include:

  • The expansion of the income based EdChoice voucher program to universal eligibility for K-12 students and provides reduced voucher amounts for families over 450% of poverty.
  • Senate Bill 1, which limits the role of the State Board of Education by shifting most of its powers and duties to a new cabinet agency named the Department of Education and Workforce.

While we still have a lot of work ahead to address major issues facing public education in Ohio, it is because of your advocacy we were able to make big gains for public education in HB 33.

Your continued engagement and advocacy will be necessary to continue to create sound, comprehensive policy solutions to educator recruitment and retention challenges, navigate the new education governance landscape, push for accountability and transparency for private schools receiving vouchers, and advance needed policies to address the growing staff and student mental health crisis. So please stay tuned on ways you can participate in OEA legislative advocacy and engagement as the General Assembly returns from its summer recess in September. 

Please click here to read OEA’s summary of the as-passed version of HB 33.  You can also download the district-by-district funding spreadsheets, here, as well as those for Joint Vocational districts.

Important Reminder for the August Special Election

On August 8, 2023, the only thing on your ballot will be Issue 1, which corrupt politicians and greedy special interests put on the August ballot in the hopes that we do not vote. If Issue 1 passes, we will lose our freedom and right to determine the future of our state when politicians choose to not listen to the will of the people. OEA urges all members to vote “NO” on Issue 1 to defend majority rule and the sacred principle of one person, one vote.

Please note that today, Monday, July 10, 2023, is the deadline to update your voter registration or to newly register to vote for the August 8, 2023, special election. Thousands of Ohio voters were purged from voting lists this year, so we are urging all voters to check their voter registration before the deadline at the end of today.

After you have confirmed, updated your registration, or newly registered to vote, please make sure you create your plan to vote No on Issue 1. Making your plan to vote No on Issue 1 is simple. Early voting starts tomorrow (Tuesday, July 11, 2023), and you have multiple methods to cast your ballot:

As a reminder, Ohio just changed its Voter ID rules, click here to find Ohio’s new Voter ID requirements. (Note: Voter ID is required for in-person voting but you can still vote without ID by voting absentee and providing the last four digits of your Social Security Number when you vote early in-person.)

Final Budget Bill Includes Fair School Funding Plan, Increase in State Teacher Minimum Salary, and Universal Expansion of the EdChoice Voucher Program 

On Friday, June 30, 2023, the Ohio General Assembly finished its work on House Bill 33, the state budget for FY 2024 and FY 2025.  The Conference Committee on House Bill 33 worked out the differences between the House and Senate. The final bill was passed by a vote of 25-6 along party lines in the Senate and 67-30 in the House.

The following are the outcomes on OEA priority issues contained within the HB 33 Conference Committee report:  

  • School Funding – The Conference Committee adopted the House-passed version of the Fair School Funding Plan. This version updates the base cost inputs to FY 2022 and continues years three and four of the phase in of the plan. These changes will increase public education funding by nearly $1 billion over the next biennium. OEA supports this provision.
  • Teacher Salary – Increases state minimum starting teacher salary from $30,000 to $35,000. OEA supports this provision.
  • Voucher Expansion – The Conference Committee adopted the Senate-passed proposal which expands the EdChoice voucher program to universal eligibility for K-12 students and provides reduced voucher amounts for families over 450% of poverty.  OEA opposes this provision.  
  • K12 Education Governance – The Conference Committee report includes the provisions of Senate Bill 1.  The language in the bill would limit the role of the State Board of Education by shifting most its powers and duties to a cabinet agency. OEA opposes this provision.
  • Mandatory Student Retention – The Conference Committee made modifications to the  student retention rule under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee by permitting a student to be promoted to the fourth grade if requested by the student’s parent, in consultation with educators. The provision will require intensive reading instruction and high-dose tutoring for students until they reach grade level in reading skills. Further, the bill provides safe harbor for students who were to be retained in the upcoming school year. While this does not include all of HB 117 as passed by the House, it ends the punitive practice of mandatory retention based solely on test scores. OEA supports this provision. 
  • School Meals – The Conference Committee adopted House-passed language to make school breakfast and lunch accessible to more children by having the state cover the cost between free and reduced-priced meals. OEA supports this provision. 
    Licensure: 

    • OEA supports the provision that streamlines the Resident Educator program, provides additional support to early career educators, and allows unlimited attempts to pass the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA). 
    • OEA opposes the changes to the teacher licensure grade bands to preK-8 and 6-12 (from preK-5, 4-9, or 7-12) and permits a school district or community school to employ an educator to teach not more than two grade levels outside of the grade band designated on the educator’s license for not more than two school years at a time, subject to renewal. 
    • OEA opposes the provision that permanently eliminates the requirement that substitute teachers have a post-secondary degree. 
    • OEA opposes the establishment of an alternative military educator license outside of the already existing alternative licensure pathway. 
  • Grow Your Own Teacher Programs – OEA supports the creation of the Grow Your Own Teacher Program, which provides low-income high school seniors and certain employees scholarships of up to $7,500 for up to four years who commit to teaching in a qualifying school for at least four years after graduating from a teacher training program (allocates $15 million to support participation in the program).
  • Social Studies Graduation Requirements – OEA supports the removal of the Senate-passed provision that would have allowed high school students to substitute a half credit of financial literacy for a half credit of social studies, which would have reduced social studies graduation requirements for some students. 
  • Higher Education – The Conference Committee removed the provisions of Senate Bill 83 from the budget bill.  These provisions were an attack on academic freedom and collective bargaining rights in Ohio’s public colleges and universities. OEA supports the removal of SB 83 from the final budget bill.  
  • Academic Intervention Services – The Conference Committee removed a Senate provision that would have required academic intervention services for any student who scored limited on a state test in math, science, or English language arts. OEA supports the removal of this provision.
  • Academic Distress Commissions – OEA supports permanently returning local control to Lorain City Schools. OEA advocated for the addition of Youngstown City Schools and East Cleveland City Schools in the amendment that removed Lorain City Schools from state takeover. OEA is disappointed that they were not included in the final Conference Committee report but will continue to advocate for the permanent release of all districts from state takeover. 
  • Economically Disadvantaged Cost Study – The Conference Committee includes an economically disadvantaged cost study.  OEA supports this provision.  

New district funding spreadsheets produced by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission (LSC) detailing the HB 33 Conference Committee funding plan are available here.    

The legislature granted through July 3, 2023, a budget extension to give Governor DeWine time to review the provisions that are subject to potential line-item vetoes. A detailed summary of HB 33 will be provided to OEA members and staff in the coming weeks. 

Budget Bill Heads to Conference Committee, Urge Your Legislator to Support Public Education in Final Budget Negotiations

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the Ohio House refused to concur with the Senate Amendments to House Bill (HB) 33, the state operating budget for FY 24 and FY 25, with a vote of 23 – 71.  HB 33 now heads to conference committee for final negotiations between the Ohio House and Senate. Conferees from the Ohio House include Finance Committee Chair Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), Committee Vice Chair Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.), and Committee Ranking Member Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake). Conferees from the Ohio Senate include Finance Committee Chair Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Vice Chair Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), and Ranking Member Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). The HB 33 Conference Committee met on Thursday, June 22, 2023, to conduct its first organizational meeting and hear testimony from the Office of Budget and Management, and the Legislative Services Commission.

As the Conference Committee works out differences between the budgets passed by the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate, OEA calls on elected leaders to come together across party lines to create a budget that supports the needs of Ohio’s public schools. To send a letter to your legislators urging them to support OEA’s Conference Committee priorities, please click here.  If you can do so, please join OEA members and allies from across Ohio at the Ohio State House Rotunda on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at 3:30 PM for a rally sponsored by our partners at the Ohio Organizing Collaborative to Fund Kids Not Cuts! Rally for Public Education. Details of the rally may be found here.

Ohio House Passes Bill to Eliminate Mandatory Student Retention

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 117 by a vote of 89-4. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D-Solon), would eliminate mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. OEA firmly believes that high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on standardized test scores. HB 117 will allow educators and parents to have a say on retention decisions. Further, the bill reduces state required testing by eliminating one administration of the 3rd grade ELA test.

The language of HB 117 was also included in the version of the state budget bill (HB 33) as passed by the House. The provision was removed by the Senate and is a subject for the conference committee on the bill.  It is time to end the punitive practice of mandatory student retention. Enactment of this change is a high priority for OEA.

Migration Journey Model Curriculum Bill Gets Sponsor Testimony

OEA supports HB 171, which received testimony from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Plain Township), before the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. HB 171 requires the state board of education to update the model curriculum for social studies in grades kindergarten to twelve to include age- and grade appropriate instruction in the migration journeys, experiences, and societal contributions of a range of communities in Ohio and the United States. Rep. Lightbody’s HB 171 sponsor testimony can be viewed here.

Trans Sports Ban and Gender Transition Prohibition Passed by Ohio House

HB 68 was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 64-28 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Republican Representatives Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) and Jamie Callender (R-Concord) joined Democrats in voting to oppose passage of the bill.  HB 68 would prohibit gender transition services for minors and ban transgender females playing on all-female sports teams at the high school and collegiate level. OEA opposes HB 68 because the bill contributes to hostile and unsafe environments for LGBTQ+ students. HB 68 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.   

State Seeks to Regulate School-Parent Communication

HB 8 was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 65-29 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Republican Representative Jamie Callender (R-Concord) voted with Democrats to oppose passage of the bill. OEA opposes HB 8 based on concerns that the bill targets LGBTQ+ students and staff, disregards statutory protections established under Title IX for LGBTQ+ students, and potentially exposes educators and school districts to costly litigation. HB 8 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

Ohio Senate Passes Budget Bill

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee accepted a 2,100-page omnibus amendment to House Bill (HB) 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. The bill passed the Ohio Senate Finance Committee on June 14, 2023, along party lines. The Ohio Senate passed the bill the following day, on June 15, 2023, with a vote of 24-7, also along party lines. The Senate’s version of the bill is dramatically worse for public education and Ohio’s students than the version passed by the Ohio House earlier this year.

The Senate Finance Committee accepted a standalone amendment from Senator Cirino (R-Kirtland) which folded the provisions of Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education “Destruction” Act, into the budget bill. These provisions represent the largest attack on collective bargaining rights since Senate Bill 5 in 2011 and will censor honest and truthful education in our institutions of higher learning.

Also added to the bill was an amendment that would require school districts to provide academic intervention services to any student who scores “limited” on any state assessment in math, science, or English language arts. These services can be provided directly by the district or through a vendor but must be free of charge for the student. OEA believes that this provision will place an outsized importance on standardized test scores over classroom work and creates an unfunded mandate for school districts.

Several additional provisions regarding school vouchers were added to the bill. Among them is a change in law that will allow private schools to charge tuition over the voucher amount to students under 200% of the federal poverty level. This, coupled with universal eligibility for vouchers, belies the notion that privatization has anything to do with providing opportunities for poorer students. With these changes to HB 33, the Senate is prioritizing providing taxpayer funded vouchers to upper-income families who already send their children to private schools over adequately funding public schools that serve 90 percent of Ohio’s students.

On a positive note, the bill now contains a provision that dissolves the Lorain City School District (Lorain CSD) academic distress commission (ADC) and academic improvement plan immediately upon the effective date of HB 33 (policy provisions effective 90 days after Governor signs bill).

The Ohio House is expected to not concur with the changes made to HB 33 by the Ohio Senate, sending the bill to conference committee for final negotiations. As the budget heads to conference committee, OEA’s top priorities remain enacting the Fair School Funding plan as passed by the Ohio House, stopping the assault on unionized college employees and higher education, enacting provisions to address Ohio’s educator recruitment and retention challenges, and stopping the expansion of school vouchers. Now is the time for Ohio’s policymakers to appropriate funding and enact policies that support public school students and educators.

OEA will continue to keep members informed throughout the process and provide ways to make your voice heard on these critical issues.

More information regarding major provisions of the omnibus amendment can be found here.

OEA calls on the Ohio House to not concur with Senate changes to HB 33. Please call the Statehouse switchboard at 1-800-282-0253 and ask to be connected with your State Representative’s office to urge that they vote “NO” on concurrence with the Senate changes to HB 33.

Trans Sports Ban (HB 6) Joined with Gender Transition Prohibition Bill (HB 68)

Before being voted out of committee, legislation that would prohibit gender transition services for minors (HB 68) was amended to include provisions from HB 6, a bill that would ban transgender females playing on all-female sports teams at the high school and collegiate level. OEA opposes both bills because they contribute to hostile and unsafe environments for LGBTQ+ students.

Senate Budget Plan Fails to Prioritize Ohio’s Public-School Students and Educators

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, the Ohio Senate Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill 33 (the state operating budget for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025). The Senate’s version of the bill is dramatically worse for public education and Ohio’s students than the version passed by the Ohio House. Seemingly, whenever there was a choice to be made, the Senate made the wrong one. Please be on the lookout for an action alert in the coming days to urge members of the General Assembly to support OEA’s positions on priority items in the budget.

Below is a summary of some key issues in the Senate’s version of the budget.

School Funding

The substitute bill maintains the House’s updated data used to calculate the base cost in the formula (FY18 data to FY22 data) and continues the phase-in percentages to be 50% in FY 24 and 66.67% in FY 25. However, the Senate made various adjustments to the formula that when compared to the House proposal decreases support for Ohio’s public schools by $245.6 million in FY 24 and $295.8 million in FY 25. New district funding spreadsheets produced by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission (LSC) detailing the Senate funding plan are available here.

OEA strongly supports the Fair School Funding Plan as passed by the Ohio House.

Teacher Minimum Salary and other Recruitment and Retention Issues

The substitute bill removes various provisions passed by the Ohio House that are designed to support students by alleviating the educator shortage. OEA opposes the following changes made by the Ohio Senate:

  • Removes House-passed increases to the state minimum teacher salary schedule that includes a raise in the starting salary from $30,000 to $40,000.
  • Removes House-passed “Grow Your Own” Teacher Program that supports low-income high school seniors and certain employees with higher education scholarships of up to $32,000 after graduating from a teacher training program.
  • Removes House-passed teacher loan repayment program that would have provided $40,000 maximum awards to eligible teachers who teach for five consecutive years in hard-to-staff schools.
  • Removes House-passed requirement to establish a Teacher Apprenticeship Program leading to professional licensure.
  • Removes House-passed requirement that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services include teachers on its list of in-demand jobs.
    Vouchers

The substitute bill includes universal eligibility for private school vouchers. The bill would make all K-12 students, regardless of their economic status or quality of their local schools, eligible for taxpayer funding for private school tuition. The proposal would provide full voucher amounts of $6,165 for grades K-8 and $8,407 for grades 9-12. Voucher amounts for first-time recipients would be subject to a sliding scale with reduced amounts for students from households with incomes above 450% of poverty ($135,000 a year for a family of four).

When compared to the version of the bill passed by the House, this increase in eligibility costs an additional $370 million over the biennium. This shows a clear diversion of resources away from support for public school students to paying for private school tuition for higher income Ohioans. The Senate is failing to prioritize 90% of Ohio’s students who attend public schools.

Third Grade Reading Guarantee

The substitute bill removed language in the House-passed version that eliminated mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The removed language also would reduce state-mandated testing by eliminating one administration of the third grade ELA test. OEA firmly believes that high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on test scores. The House-passed language would allow educators and parents to make decisions in the best interests of students and allow more time for teaching and learning in the classroom by reducing state testing. The Senate’s change is a return to the status quo that is harmful to our students.

K-12 Education Governance

The bill included the provisions of Senate Bill 1 which transfers the powers and duties of the State Board of Education (SBOE) to a cabinet-level agency under the Governor called the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW). SBOE would retain duties in the areas of educator licensure, teacher evaluation, educator discipline, and school territory transfers. All other duties would be transferred to DEW. This undercuts the authority of the partially elected Board whose meetings and deliberations are open to the public. This transfer of power does not have buy-in from key education stakeholders and will limit the ability of educators and members of the public to provide meaningful input on academic standards, rulemaking, and education policy.

Licensure

The substitute bill contains numerous provisions around educator licensure. On the plus side, the Senate maintains the bulk of House-passed reforms to the Ohio Teacher Residency (OTR) Program and Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA), including a shortening of the resident educator license to 2 years (program already reduced to two years) and prohibiting limits on the number of times an educator can take the RESA. OEA does not support changing teacher license grade bands to PK-8 and 6-12 (current grade bands are PK-5, 4-9, and 7-12). OEA does not support the Senate change that would allow unlicensed individuals employed under the “Troops to Teachers” law to teach in core subject areas (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Languages, Fine Arts). OEA also opposes the Senate-added provision that permits a student to substitute one-half unit of financial literacy instruction for one-half unit of social studies instruction to meet the financial literacy requirement for graduation. A more detailed summary of the Senate’s substitute bill can be found here.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to make another round of changes to the bill next week before sending the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. OEA anticipates that the provisions of Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education “Destruction” Act which represents the largest attack on collective bargaining since Senate Bill 5, will be included into the budget bill.

Once passed by the Ohio Senate, the amended budget bill will go to the Ohio House for concurrence. It is highly likely that the House will not concur with the Senate’s changes to HB 33. The House and Senate will then name members to a conference committee to work out the differences between the separate versions of the budget bill. By law, the final budget must be passed by the end of June. However, it is possible that the legislature can pass continuing resolutions to extend the deadline if final resolution takes longer.

Reminder: Next OEA Member Lobby Day

OEA’s next Member Lobby Day is on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. The upcoming lobby day will focus on member advocacy at the Ohio Senate. Members participating will be encouraged to speak with their senators about the Fair School Funding Plan, voucher programs, educator recruitment and retention, and other important legislation before the Ohio General Assembly that impacts public education, educators, and the students you serve.

The window to RSVP closes soon, so please make sure you click here to RSVP your attendance. The lobby day will start with a briefing from OEA Officers and staff at 9:30 AM in at the OEA HQ, located at 225 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 45208. Breakfast and refreshments will be provided. OEA will also cover the cost of parking in a nearby parking garage and provide a voucher for lunch.

Finally, if you want to get up to speed on the issues and receive talking points in advance, please consider joining the virtual pre-lobby day briefing on Thursday, June 1, 2023, at 4:00 PM. To RSVP for the pre-briefing, please click here.

If you have any questions about OEA’s upcoming lobby day, please email OEA Government Relations at govtsrv@ohea.org. We hope to see you next week!

Educating for Ohio’s Future Coalition Statehouse Day of Action

House Bill 171, sponsored by Representative Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), proposes to update the model curriculum for social studies in grades K through 12 to include age- and grade appropriate instruction in migration journeys, experiences, and societal contributions of a range of communities in Ohio. OEA supports this bill and has signed on to the Educating for Ohio’s Future Coalition which seeks to advocate for the passage of HB 171.

The coalition is hosting a Statehouse Day of Action on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Parents, students, educators, and community members from across the state will visit the Ohio Statehouse to meet with their representatives to talk about the importance of an updated K-12 social studies curriculum.

Click here to sign up for the coalitions Statehouse Day.

Bill to Restrict the Voice of Higher Education Employees Passes in Ohio Senate

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, Senate Bill 83 (R-Cirino), a bill that proposes sweeping changes to the practices and policies at Ohio higher education institutions, passed the Ohio Senate by a vote of 21-10. Joining Democrats in opposition to the bill were Republican Senators N. Manning, Blessing, and Reynolds.

Senate Bill 83, and its House companion legislation House Bill 151, represent the largest attacks on collective bargaining rights since Senate Bill 5 in 2011. These bills prohibit collective bargaining in state institutions of higher education with regard to faculty performance evaluation systems, tenure (due process) and retrenchment policies, as well as post-tenure review policies (which under the bill could lead to censure, remedial training, for-cause termination, or any other action permitted by the institution’s post-tenure review policy). The bills also seek to silence the voice of workers by taking away the right to strike for higher education employees.

Additionally, both bills propose to micromanage state institutions of higher education by usurping the authority of boards of trustees and administrators who oversee the daily operations of these institutions by requiring changes to mission statements, faculty workload policies, syllabi requirements, and bans mandatory Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and courses in favor of government interference and one-size-fits-all state mandates.

Senate Bill 83 now heads to the Ohio House for consideration. It is also expected that some of the bill’s provisions will be amended into House Bill 33, the state budget bill that is currently pending in the Ohio Senate.

Meanwhile, over in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee, House Bill 151 received opponent testimony. Over 150 individuals submitted testimony in opposition to the bill. You may view OEA President Scott DiMauro’s testimony here.

Please send your legislator a letter urging their opposition to SB 83 and HB 151 by clicking here.

Bill Requires Social Studies Task Force to Consider Right-Leaning Standards

OEA opposes House Bill (HB) 103, legislation that requires an Ohio Social Studies Task Force to re-write Ohio’s K-12 social studies standards to conform with the right-leaning “American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards.” The Ohio General Assembly would have to approve the standards before they take effect.

OEA was first to testify in opposition to HB 103 at the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee hearing on May 16, 2023. The bill also attracted opposition testimony from more than three-dozen individuals and organizations, including the Ohio Council for the Social Studies (OCSS).

The “American Birthright” standards do not meet the standards and best practices of Social Studies teachers. Neither the OCSS nor the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) endorses or supports the use of these standards.

Further, HB 103 is a divisive distraction. The “American Birthright” standards have been criticized as a tool to confuse the ideological views of adults with the learning needs of students. These suggested standards are also seen as narrowing the social studies curriculum to tell one separate story, instead of our united story. Distracting educators with divisive political conflicts are not in the best interest of students.

Write Your Member of Congress and Ask them to Support Federal Legislation to Repeal GPO/WEP

Legislation aimed at the repeal of the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP) has received wide bipartisan support in both chambers of U.S. Congress. Known as the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 597/H.R. 82), the legislation has support from 263 cosponsors in the U.S. House and 40 in the U.S. Senate. GPO/WEP deprive more than 2.5 million Americans, including educators, of Social Security benefits they have earned.

Just two weeks ago, educators from all 15 states affected by GPO/WEP, including from Ohio, lobbied members of Congress to encourage their support for the repeal of GPO/WEP.

Please join these members and encourage your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator to support the Social Security Fairness Act by clicking here.

OEA Announces Next Member Lobby Day for June 6, 2023

OEA’s next Member Lobby Day is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, 2023. OEA Member Lobby Days provide an excellent opportunity for members to meet with their legislators to discuss key education policy issues currently before the General Assembly.

Participating members will receive a briefing from OEA Officers and OEA Government Relations Staff prior to their legislative visits. The Lobby Day Briefing will be held in the Presidents Room at the OEA Headquarters at 9:30 AM.

To find out more about the June 6, 2023, member lobby day and how to RSVP, please click here.

SJR 2 Narrowly Passes the Ohio House. Campaign Launched to Vote No in August on the Amendment

Down to the final day, the Ohio House narrowly passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). The measure passed 62-37 (60 votes required). Before passage, the resolution was amended to specify that it would go to the August 8, 2023, Special Election. This is of note because just months ago the legislature eliminated August special elections in most cases and had not passed a bill to reinstate them. This will likely face a legal challenge. Additionally, the legislature has not passed any funding to pay for the costs of holding an additional statewide election.

The resolution seeks to amend the constitution and weaken the voice of Ohio voters by requiring greater than 60% of the vote to pass future constitutional amendments. Further, it would make it almost impossible for citizen-led initiatives to make it to the ballot by setting onerous signature gathering requirements in every county.

OEA has joined with hundreds of other organizations to stand up for the rights of Ohio voters. We need our members to mobilize to defeat this proposal at the ballot in August. This amendment shreds our Constitution, ending majority rule in Ohio and taking away our right to decide what happens in our state. It undermines the sacred principle of ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE! Protect our freedom and stand up to this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary amendment! Vote NO in August! We need your voice to win!

Click here to learn more about how to get involved in the One Person, One Vote Campaign.

OEA President DiMauro Testifies on State Budget Bill in Ohio Senate

OEA President Scott DiMauro provided testimony on May 10, 2023, before the Senate Education Committee on Substitute House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. The testimony highlighted the following:

  • The need for the Senate to retain House-passed changes to the school funding formula.
  • Request that the Senate provide a mechanism that ensures when updates to the capacity measures in future years occur, the base cost components of the funding formula will also update.
  • Opposition to the EdChoice voucher proposed eligibility expansion.
  • Request that the Senate maintain the House-passed increase in state minimum starting teacher salary from $30,000 to $40,000 and consider increasing the minimum teacher salary to $50,000.
  • Input on the provisions of the budget bill addressing literacy and evidence-based reading instruction.
  • Request support for language added by the Ohio House that would repeal mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Request support for the provision that provides state funding to cover the cost between free and reduced-priced meals and request that the Senate add a provision to cover universal breakfast in Ohio schools.
  • Advocating for support for a variety of provisions included in the bill that address growing teacher shortages.

You can view OEA’s testimony by clicking here.

Ohio House and Ohio Senate Adopt Substitute Bills to Higher Education “Reform” Proposals

On May 15, 2023, the Ohio Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee adopted a substitute bill to Senate Bill 83 (R-Cirino).  The substitute bill includes the following changes outlined below:

  • Revises the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) provisions to allow for certain exemptions.  Exemptions must be approved by the chancellor of higher education and be required for compliance with federal law, licensure, accreditation, or cooperative agreements. 
  • Removes the provision requiring intellectual diversity rubrics for classes and clarifies that the bills intent is not to prohibit faculty or students from classroom instruction, discussion, or debate as long as faculty are committed to expressing and allowing the expression of intellectual diversity.  The bill maintains the requirement that institutions develop disciplinary measure against faculty and staff who interfere with “intellectual diversity rights.”
  • Changes the requirement for syllabi to contain biographical information about faculty to instead require “professional qualifications” of faculty. 
  • Revises language to clarify that prohibitions on policies designed to segregate based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression apply only to credit-earning classroom settings, formal orientation ceremonies, and formal graduation ceremonies.  This removes the concern that the bill’s language would have applied to student organizations, athletic teams, and housing.
  • Clarifies that Chinese students can attend and pay tuition and fees to Ohio higher education institutions. 
  • Allows Ohio higher education institutions to have academic relationships with Chinese institutions.  Requires that “safeguard requirements” are met and that the relationship must be approved by the Chancellor in consultation with the Attorney General. 
  • Removes the bill’s provisions from applying to private institutions of higher education.

Substitute Senate Bill 83 also adds new policy provisions including:

  • Specifies that tenure, faculty evaluations, workload, and retrenchment are not appropriate subjects for collective bargaining for future contracts and that policies developed by the board of trustees would prevail over any conflicting provision(s) of a collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Requires a board of trustees to develop policies on tenure and retrenchment and to update those policies every five years. 
  • Reduces trustee terms from nine to four years beginning for trustees appointed on or after January 1, 2024.
  • Includes new language on endowments and donor intent similar to legislation from last General Assembly.

Substitute Senate Bill 83 maintains the ban on strikes by employees of higher education, maintains annual faculty evaluations with 50% of the assessment from student evaluations, retains the 30 credit hour minimum workload policy, prohibits using diversity statements in hiring and promotion decisions, requires specific syllabi requirements and making them public and searchable, requires post tenure review and requires that students complete a three-hour course in American government or history. 

OEA anticipates that Substitute Senate Bill 83 will be passed out of committee next week. It is also expected that some or all of the bill’s provisions will be amended into House Bill 33, the state budget bill that is currently pending in the Ohio Senate. 

Additionally, House Bill 151, companion legislation to Senate Bill 83, received sponsor and proponent testimony on May 10, 2023 in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee.  The committee also accepted a substitute bill to HB 151 to mirror Substitute Senate Bill 83. 

New Bill Requires Social Studies Model Curriculum to Include Migration Journeys

OEA supports House Bill 171, introduced on May 15, 2023 by state Representative Mary Lightbody (D-Plain Township). The bill requires that no later than July 1, 2024, the state board shall begin to update the model curriculum for social studies in grades kindergarten to twelve to include age- and grade appropriate instruction in the migration journeys, experiences, and societal contributions of a range of communities in Ohio and the United States, including all of the following: (a) African American communities; (b) Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; (c) Arab, African, and North African immigrant, refugee, and asylee communities; (d) Appalachian communities; (e) Jewish communities; (f) Latin American communities; (g) Native American communities. The bill has not yet been assigned to committee.

Bill to Establish State Regulation of School-Parent Communication and Relationships Receives Opposition Testimony

OEA opposes House Bill 8, joint sponsored by Representative D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Representative Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), which unnecessarily entangles state government in regulating communications and relationships between parents and educators. Government mandates on these matters interfere with the professionalism of educators and weaken the principle of local control of public schools. OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing provided opponent testimony on HB 8 before the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee on May 9, 2023. You may view Vice President Wensing’s testimony here.

Single-Sex Sports Bill Passed By Ohio House Higher Education Committee

House Bill 6, sponsored by Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), was passed out of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee on May 10, 2023. The bill passed on a mainly party-line vote, with Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) voting No with the committee’s Democrats. OEA opposes HB 6, which requires schools participating in PK-12 and higher education athletic competitions to designate separate single-sex athletic teams based on the sex of the participants without accommodation to LGBQT+ students. HB 6 is unnecessary. The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the National College Athletics Association have already established guidelines for participation in interscholastic and collegiate sporting that address issues raised by HB 6. The Ohio Education Association has long stood for policies that are inclusive of students, regardless of race, class, gender, or identity. OEA President Scott DiMauro provided opponent testimony on HB 6. You may view President DiMauro’s testimony here.

Constitutional Amendment Proposal Coming Down to Final Days

Earlier this week, the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee again passed a resolution that would weaken the voice of Ohio voters by requiring a vote of over 60% to pass future constitutional amendments. The Committee passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) after having passed a similar resolution the previous week. Neither has yet been brought up in the full House for a vote. Legislation that would call for a special August election to rush the proposal to the ballot, Senate Bill 92, was scheduled for a committee vote on Wednesday but the meeting was cancelled.

All of this means that it is coming down to the final week. The resolution and legislation enabling an August special election would need to be passed by the Ohio House on or before May 10th, 90 days before the proposed August 8, 2023, special election. Opposition to the unpopular and undemocratic proposal continues to grow. OEA members joined hundreds of others for a day of action at the Statehouse on Wednesday. This week five former Ohio Attorneys General from both parties came out in opposition—joining four former Ohio Governors from last week.

We need to keep the pressure up to defeat this! Click here to write to your Representative urging them to vote no on HJR 1/SJR 2 and to oppose an August 8, 2023, special election. You can also call your legislator by dialing 1-800-282-0253 and ask to be connected to your state representative. Urge them to oppose an August 8, 2023, special election and to vote no on HJR 1/ SJR 2.

House-Passed School Funding District Simulations Released

The Ohio House recently released school district funding simulations reflecting the changes in the House passed version of Substitute House Bill 33, the budget bill for FY 2024 and 2025. The simulations reflect the continued implementation of the Fair School Funding Plan (years 3 and 4) with updated base cost inputs from Fiscal Year 2022. Please note that the spreadsheets for JVSDs have not been released. Click here for the simulations. The budget bill is currently pending in the Ohio Senate.

OEA Testifies in Support of HB 117

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified in favor of House Bill 117, sponsored by Representative Phil Robinson (D-Solon) and Representative Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. The bill would repeal mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Additionally, the bill would reduce some state-mandated testing by eliminating the fall administration of the third grade ELA test. OEA strongly supports HB 117. The language was also included in the budget bill (HB 33) as passed by the Ohio House.

You can view OEA’s testimony by clicking here. Additionally, five OEA members provided testimony as proponents of HB 117. Melinda Lindauer (retired), Faith Elleman (Lebanon), Heidi Beradinis (Wayne Local), and Jennifer Bindus (Aurora) testified in person and Melissa Kmetz (Lakeview Local) provided written testimony. You can download all provided testimony on HB 117 by clicking here.

Social Studies Standards Bill Gets First Hearing

House Bill 103, sponsored by Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Representative Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), received a first hearing in the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee on May 2, 2023. The bill would create a nine-member Ohio Social Studies Task Force which must develop statewide academic standards in social studies for grades K-12 based on “American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards.” The task force would be required to report the proposed standards to the Ohio General Assembly for further consideration. OEA opposes the HB 103 proposal to bypass the State Board of Education process for developing and adopting Ohio’s subject-based learning standards. Further, the Ohio Council for the Social Studies opposes use of “American Birthright” documents as a basis for making changes to Ohio’s Learning Standards for Social Studies.

Ohio House Passes State Budget Bill (HB 33)

On Tuesday, April 25, the Ohio House Finance Committee made further changes to the state budget bill, via an omnibus amendment, before sending the Substitute House Bill 33 to the full Ohio House.

After House floor deliberations on Wednesday, April 26, the Ohio House passed Substitute House Bill 33 by a vote of 77-19.  OEA commends the Ohio House for their bipartisan collaboration in crafting a state budget bill that provides significant financial investment for public schools, increases the minimum teacher salary, and repeals the retention provision of the third grade reading guarantee among other items.

New district funding spreadsheets detailing the House-passed version are not yet available. It is important to note that we are halfway through the state budget process and funding and policy provisions are likely to change.  Attention now shifts to the Ohio Senate where budget hearings are underway.    

Details of the major policy changes contained within the amendments made to the budget bill since last week’s legislative watch are outlined below.

  • Requires by July 1, 2024, the Ohio Department of Education to develop one or more measures to demonstrate the performance of vouchers students that enable parents to compare the performance of voucher students against that of students enrolled in public schools.
  • Prohibits private schools participating in the EdChoice Voucher program from requiring a student’s parent to disclose, as part of the school’s admission procedure, whether the student’s family income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. 
  • Requires the Department of Education to determine penalty fees related to transportation based upon the number of students affected rather than the total daily transportation payment amount.
    Appropriates $100 million in FY 2024 for the Career-Technical Construction Program.  This restores the $200 million appropriation in FY 2024, as under the executive budget proposal.
  • Changes the definition of “three-cueing approach” to mean “any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure, syntax, and visual cues” rather than “an instructional method that encourages students to predict words based on story structure, pictures, typical word order, letter sounds, or other contextual cues.”
  • Qualifies special education programs operated by a county board of developmental disabilities and facilities offering juvenile day treatment services for reimbursements for reduced price school meals.
  • Removes from the bill a provision that required a presidential primary election to be held in May, the same as other primary elections in Ohio, rather than being held in March.

You may view a summary of the provisions included in Substitute House Bill 33 here

Advocacy Efforts Continue to Defend the Rights of Ohio Voters

The House may vote next week on a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed by Ohio voters, would make it more difficult to pass future amendments by requiring 60% of the vote. This ill-conceived amendment would weaken the voice of Ohio voters strip away with basic principle of majority rule. For over one hundred years Ohioans have had the right to amend the constitution to address key issues when the legislature fails to act upon them. Disturbingly, the legislature is attempting to rush the proposal to the ballot by proposing a special August election.

This week, four former Ohio Governors voiced their opposition to House Joint Resolution 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 as well as the push for an August special election. Ted Strickland (D), Bob Taft (R), John Kasich (R), and Richard Celeste (D) all were quoted in the press in opposition.

There are several ways that you can help to fight back against this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary proposal. On Wednesday, May 3rd, educators, other union members, and other allies working to defeat these proposals are holding a day of action at the Statehouse. OEA members who are able are encouraged to attend. Click here for more information.

Click here to email your state representative and urge them to oppose these proposals. You can also call your legislator by dialing 1-800-282-0253 and ask to be connected to your state representative. Urge them to vote “No” on House Joint Resolution 1 or Senate Joint Resolution 2.

OEA Members Testify Against Universal Voucher Bill

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, OEA President Scott DiMauro provided testimony in opposition to House Bill 11. This bill would create a new universal voucher program for K-12 students providing taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition or homeschooling. The proposal would blow an enormous hole in the state budget with an estimated cost of $1.1 billion a year just to pay for students who already attend private schools. This would undercut funding for the approximately 90% of Ohio’s students who attend public schools.

The hearing on Tuesday was the third hearing on HB 11 and the first opportunity for opponents to testify. OEA members Dan Heintz (Chardon) and Christopher Monteiro (Columbus) also testified before the committee in opposition. Several other OEA members took the time to add their voices in opposition to HB 11 and stand up for Ohio’s public schools by providing written testimony.  

To learn about how you can provide testimony on priority legislation that OEA supports or opposes, please contact OEA Government Relations at govtsrv@ohea.org

House Adopts Substitute Budget Bill; Increases Funding for Public Schools and Raises State Teacher Minimum Salary

Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. OEA is delighted that the substitute bill includes OEA’s recommendation on updating the base cost inputs of the school funding plan by using FY 2022 data instead of outdated data from FY 2018. By updating the base cost components, it is estimated that the average per student base cost will increase from $7,352 in the current fiscal year to $8,241 in FY 2024. This represents a 12.1% increase from the current per-pupil amount. The proposal continues the phase-in (years three and four of a six-year phase in) of the formula at 50% and 66.67% in FY 2024 and FY 2025 respectively. This increases state funding to public schools by nearly $1 billion over the biennium.

OEA is also pleased that the substitute bill proposes to raise the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $40,000, increases subsequent minimum salary steps using the same multipliers in the state minimum salary schedule, and includes other policy provisions to address Ohio’s teacher recruitment and retention challenge. The proposed $10,000 increase in the state minimum teacher salary is a critical step to reaching OEA’s goal of $50,000 for starting salaries.

Other positive changes that OEA supports in the substitute bill are:

  • Eliminates the mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and also eliminates the fall administration of all third-grade English language arts assessments, beginning with the 2023-24 school year.
  • Requires public and private schools to provide a meal at no cost to a student who is eligible for a reduced-priced meal. Appropriates an additional $8.4 million for this purpose.
  • Authorizes and appropriates $500,000 for an economically disadvantaged student cost study.
  • Changes the deadline for which teachers need to complete their dyslexia professional development (please see bill summary for more information)

However, the substitute bill increases eligibility for the income based EdChoice voucher program. The bill raises eligibility to 450% of poverty ($135,000 for a family of four) compared to 400% in the executive budget proposal and 250% under current law. OEA is opposed to expansion of voucher eligibility and continues to advocate for amendments that would bring additional accountability to Ohio’s voucher programs.

You may review an OEA summary of the provisions contained within the substitute bill here. House Bill 33 is expected to have additional changes and a vote next week in the Ohio House.

Over 500 Individuals Submit Opposition Testimony to Senate Bill 83: The Higher Education “Destruction” Act

This week, OEA President Scott DiMauro, Columbus State Education Association President Adam Keller, and other witnesses testified in opposition to Senate Bill 83. The bill sponsored by Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirkland) is a sweeping piece of legislation that proposes an unprecedented level of political interference and micromanagement of Ohio’s colleges and universities.

SB 83 is a series of contradictions on freedom of speech, claiming to promote intellectual diversity while simultaneously dictating the content and manner in which certain topics can be discussed. It would ban the types of training that ensure all students, no matter their backgrounds, can succeed.

The untenable mandates in SB 83 would shift money, time, and attention from student learning to bureaucracy. It would make it harder to attract students and faculty to Ohio’s institutions of higher learning, and in the long run, Ohio will become even less competitive economically.

Moreover, SB 83 attacks workers’ rights by attempting to ban the right to strike by any union representing faculty or staff on a campus. Under the guise of not wanting to disrupt student learning, the true intent of this portion of SB 83 is to weaken the power of campus workers to advocate for fair working conditions, which are students’ learning conditions.

You may access copies of the written testimonies and watch President DiMauro’s and CSEA President Keller’s remarks here.

Please continue to write your senator and ask that they oppose SB 83 by clicking here.

Amendment to Weaken Voice of Voters Passes Senate; House Committee Reports out its Version of the Amendment

On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). If approved by voters, the proposal would make it harder for Ohioans to pass future Constitutional amendments by requiring a 60% majority. SJR 2 would also make it harder for a citizen-led initiative to qualify for the ballot by requiring signatures from 5% of voters in all 88 counties and eliminating the 10-day cure period for signatures. SJR 2 passed the Ohio Senate on a party-line vote of 26-7.

OEA is opposed to this proposal as it weakens the voice of Ohio voters and undoes the basic principle of majority rule. Click here to read OEA’s opposition testimony.

The Senate also passed legislation, Senate Bill 92, that would create an August special election to bring the Constitutional amendment before voters. This comes just months after the legislature eliminated August special elections in most cases. SB 92 passed the Senate 25-8 with Senator Nathan Manning (R- North Ridgeville) joining Senate Democrats in opposition.

On the House side, House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1), a separate version of the same proposal was narrowly passed out of the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee. Wednesday marked the third hearing on the proposal. It was the first opportunity for opponents to HJR 1 to testify and well over 100 witnesses submitted testimony. However, after hearing from only 6 witnesses, the committee moved a vote on the measure. The committee passed HJR 1 by a vote of 7-6, with Representative Brett Hillyer (R- Uhrichsville) and the Democratic members of the committee in opposition.

It is unclear when the House will bring either HJR 1 or SJR 2 to the Floor for a vote. Click here to contact your state representative and express your opposition to this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary proposal.

Share your comments on the Student Interaction with Peace Officers Model Curriculum Draft

Please share your comments on the April 2023 version of the Draft – Student Interactions with Peace Officers Model Curriculum. The deadline for public comment on the rule is on April 24, 2023. To offer public comment, please click here. Your voice is needed!

Ohio General Assembly Returns from Spring Break; OEA Opposed Legislation to Receive Hearings

The Ohio General Assembly returns from legislative spring break next week. Several bills which OEA opposes are scheduled to receive hearings. It is imperative that OEA members make their voices heard in opposition by sending letters to members of the General Assembly on the following bills:

House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) & Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2)

HJR 1 and SJR 2, the proposals to amend the Ohio Constitution, if passed by the voters would require all subsequent constitutional amendments to receive 60 percent of the vote to be enacted. It will hearings next week. On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee will hear proponent and interested party testimony on HJR 1. The House committee will also consider possible amendments to HJR 1. Also on Tuesday, the Senate General Government Committee will hear opponent testimony on SJR 2. OEA will provide opposition testimony to SJR 2 on Tuesday. The following day, the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee will hear opponent testimony on HJR 1 – OEA will also provide in-person opposition testimony to HJR 1 during Wednesday’s hearing.

The Senate Committee will meet at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in the Senate South Hearing Room. The House Committee will meet at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Statehouse Room 116, near the museum in the Statehouse Crypt.

Our partners around the We Are Ohio Table and other coalitions in opposition to HJR 1 and SJR 2 are asking for individuals to attend the hearings to show our collective opposition to HJR 1 and SJR 2.

Please also use OEA’s Action Alert in Opposition to HJR 1 and SJR 2 to send a letter to your legislators urging that they oppose these undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary constitutional amendments.

Senate Bill 83

OEA opposes SB 83, Senator Cirino’s (R-Kirkland) proposal to make sweeping changes to a wide range of higher education laws, including restricting faculty and staff collective bargaining rights. OEA will deliver opposition testimony on SB 83 before the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee which will meet on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at 4:00 PM in the Senate South Hearing Room. OEA and our allies are asking members to attend the hearing if able.

Please also use OEA’s Action Alert in Opposition to SB 83 to send a letter to your Senator urging that they oppose SB 83.

Continue to Send Letters in Opposition to Universal Voucher Proposals

While we have not received notifications on a hearing for Senate Bill 11, Senator O’Brien’s (R-Ashtabula) or House Bill 11, Representative Riordan McClain (R-Nevada) and Representative Marilyn John (R-Shelby), the universal voucher bills, please continue to send letters using OEA’s Action Alerts in opposition to universal voucher expansion to urge your legislators’ opposition to HB 11 and SB 11.

Take Action Against Proposals to Weaken Voice of Ohio’s Voters

Two proposed constitutional amendments seek to weaken the voice of voters. It’s time to stand up and fight back. House Joint Resolution 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 1 and SJR 2) would make it much harder to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments in our state by requiring a supermajority of 60% of the vote.

Legislators are considering rushing these issues to the ballot with an August special election. We must come together to protect the fundamental right of Ohio voters to decide critical issues at the ballot box. Click here to take action and urge your legislators to oppose HJR 1 and SJR 2.

SJR 2, sponsored by Senators Robert McColley (R- Napoleon) and Theresa Gavarone (R- Bowling Green), received two hearings before the Senate General Government Committee. A similar proposal, HJR 1, has been introduced in the House. Either proposed amendment, if passed by both chambers, would go before Ohio voters. If a majority of voters pass the amendment, all future constitutional amendments would require a 60% majority to pass.

Senators McColley and Gavarone have also introduced Senate Bill 92 which would allow for a special August election to put the statewide ballot issue before voters. Senate Bill 92 also received two hearings this week. The bill appropriates $20 million for the purposes of holding the special election. Just months after the legislature passed a law eliminating August special elections, they are now considering rushing a constitutional amendment to the ballot in August.

The legislature is slated to take a two-week recess and return in mid-April. For an issue to go onto the ballot, it would need to be passed 90 days prior to any election (early May for an August election). Now is the perfect time to contact your legislators and express opposition to these proposals that weaken the voice of Ohio’s voters. Click here to take action today.

Ohio Senate Bill 49: Senate Education Committee Approves Student Religious Expression Days

On March 28, 2023, the Ohio Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee unanimously passed legislation that would provide K-12 public school students with three excused absences a school year for religious expression days. SB 49 requires that students be provided alternative accommodations for examinations or other academic requirements missed due to a religious expression day absence approved in accordance with the bill.

OEA has been advocating for changes to SB 49 that are beneficial to educators and students. SB 49 is sponsored by Sen. Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester). OEA has an “Interested Party” position on the bill. The next step for SB 49 would be a vote before the full Ohio Senate, which has yet to be scheduled.

  • The Ohio Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware), added the following amendments to SB 49 requested by OEA:
  • Requires the school principal, instead of the classroom teacher, to approve religious expression day absence requests.
  • Requires a student’s parent or guardian, instead of the student, to provide written notice for religious expression day accommodation requests.
  • Permits school principals to verify written requests for excused absences by contacting the parent or guardian whose name appears on the written request and to deny requests that a parent or guardian disputes having signed.
  • Requires school principals, upon approval of a parent or guardian’s request for religious expression day absence(s) in accordance with the bill, to require the appropriate classroom teacher(s) to provide alternative academic accommodations for examinations or other academic requirements.
  • Require school districts to annually communicate the district’s policy and general procedure for requesting religious expression day accommodations to parents and guardians in a manner determined by the school district, instead of placement of the notice on all classroom syllabi.

SB 49 also provides that absences approved as student religious expression days shall not be considered unexcused absences under Ohio Revised Code Section 3321.191, a state law that requires parental notification if a student supersedes specified amounts of unexcused student absences.

OEA President DiMauro Testifies on State Budget Bill

This week, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified on HB 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. In the testimony, President DiMauro highlighted the following:

  • The need to update and fully fund the Fair School Funding Plan.
  • Opposition to the proposed elimination of the school bus purchase program.
  • Opposition to the EdChoice voucher proposed eligibility expansion and proposed increase in funding for the Quality Community Schools Support Fund.
  • OEA’s recommendations on teacher recruitment and retention, including increasing the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Input on the provisions of the budget bill addressing literacy and evidence-based reading instruction.
  • Opposition to the requirement that each student, as a condition of graduation, to provide evidence of having completed and submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Advocating for changes to various licensure provisions within the bill.

You may access a copy of the written testimony and watch President DiMauro’s remarks here.

First Hearing Held on Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Weaken Voice of Ohio Voters; Senate Eyes August Special Election

House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would require a 60% majority of votes to pass future constitutional amendments. This proposal undermines the basic principle of majority rule and would weaken the voice of Ohio voters to decide issues through the democratic process. OEA is joined by over 170 organizations opposed to HJR 1 deeming it unfair, undemocratic, unpopular, and unnecessary.

On Wednesday, March 22, the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee held a first hearing on HJR 1 with Representative Brian Stewart (R- Ashville) offering sponsor testimony. In addition to increasing the threshold for passing a constitutional amendment, HJR 1 would also make it harder for citizens to get an issue on the ballot by requiring signatures of five percent of the voters in every county.

Also, this week the Senate introduced its own version of the measure, Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). Additionally, a bill was introduced (Senate Bill 92) which would allow for an August special election on the matter even though the legislature eliminated such elections last year. The bill appropriates $20 million for that purpose.

U.S. House GOP Public Education Attack Bill Heads to the U.S. Senate

This week, U.S. House GOP leadership is continuing the national attacks on public education with a deceitful piece of legislation, HR 5 (the falsely named “Parents Bill of Rights”), that will actually undermine local control of schools, insert the federal government as a national school board, facilitate further book bans and lead to more censorship of teaching honest and accurate education. It is aimed at stoking more targeting of certain groups of students and educators, including the LGBTQ+ population.

This bill, a top 3 legislative priority for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is the federal version of what we saw in House Bills 322, 327, and 616 from the 134th Ohio General Assembly, that would have devastating consequences for students, educators, and communities. The bill will do absolutely nothing to address actual needs of students and issues most important to parents and educators like ensuring individualized support for students, focusing on mental health needs, addressing educator shortages, and preventing gun violence.

Today the U.S. House approved HR 5 with a 213-208 vote. It is unlikely that HR 5 will be considered in the U.S. Senate.

Ohio’s U.S. House Delegation voted 10-5 for the bill along party lines:

Yea/Aye Votes:

Representatives Balderson (R-12), Carey (R-15), Davidson (R-8), Johnson, (R-6), Jordan (R-4), Joyce (R-14), Latta (R-5), Miller (R-7), Turner (R-10), and Wenstrup (R-2)

Nay/No Votes:

Representatives Beatty (D-3), Brown (D-11), Kaptur (D-9), Landsman (D-1), and Sykes (D-13)

For further information on the bill, please see the below resources from NEA:

Read NEA’s two-page backgrounder on HR 5

Watch NEA’s quick video about the bill

Draconian Higher Education “Catch-All” Bill Introduced in Ohio Senate

On Tuesday, March 14, Senate Bill 83 was introduced by Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland). OEA is opposed to the legislation that proposes to make sweeping changes to a wide variety of issues regarding higher education. Senator Cirino indicated that SB 83 is the result of conversations with higher education experts, students, and trustees. The bill is scheduled for sponsor testimony before the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee, pending committee referral, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 11:00 AM. Among other provisions the bill contains the following:

  • Prohibits employees of any state institutions of higher education from striking.
  • Requires faculty to have annual performance evaluations, including student evaluations that will account for at least 50% of the teaching evaluation component.
  • Requires a post-tenure review if the tenured faculty member does not meet performance expectations.
  • Requires institutions of higher education to incorporate the following concepts into their mission statement:
    • It will educate students by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry.
    • Its duty is to equip students with the intellectual skills they need to reach their own, informed conclusions on matters of social and political importance.
    • Its duty is to ensure that no aspect of life, outside or within the classroom, requires, favors, disfavors, or prohibits speech or action to support any political, social, or religious belief.
  • Prohibits requiring diversity, equity, or inclusion (DEI) courses or training for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Requires universities to guarantee free speech protection and intellectual diversity.
  • Requires a syllabus to include the instructor’s name and biographical information, description of course requirements and major assignments/exams, reading list, and description of each lecture or discussion.
  • Requires a three-credit course in American Government or History course with enumerated required readings.

You may view a summary of all the provisions of Senate Bill 83 here.

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1 to Receive Sponsor Testimony Next Week

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1, formerly HJR 6 in the last General Assembly, will receive its first sponsor testimony on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at 8:30 AM, at the Ohio Statehouse in hearing Room 17. If you can attend, please show up. We plan to pack the hearing room in coordination with our partners at We Are Ohio. HJR 1 undermines the principle of one person, one vote and removes our right to make needed changes to the Ohio Constitution by a majority vote. This initiative is undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary.

OEA is partnering with We Are Ohio to promote our efforts to pack the committee room and show HJR 1’s sponsors that Ohioans will show up to protect our freedoms and rights. Please click here to download the WAO flyer that contains information on the hearing date, time, and location.

Legislature Considering Harmful Voucher Expansion Proposals 

Several proposals in the Ohio legislature seek to advance massive expansions in eligibility for school vouchers. Voucher programs use public taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition for K-12 students. This comes at the expense of the approximately 90% of students who attend Ohio’s public schools. Rather than expanding voucher eligibility, now is the time to fully implement the Fair School Funding Plan to meet the needs of Ohio’s students.

Legislative proposals to expand voucher eligibility include:

  • HB 33- Governor DeWine’s executive budget proposal calls for an increase in the eligibility for the income-based EdChoice voucher program from 250% of federal poverty guidelines ($75,000 for a family of four) to 400% ($120,000 for a family of four).
  • SB 11- Sponsored by Senator Sandra O’Brien (R- Rome), SB 11 allows for universal eligibility under the EdChoice voucher program. All K-12 students, regardless of family income, would be eligible for vouchers. The bill also increases the homeschooling tax credit from $250 to $2,000. The fiscal note on the bill estimates an annual cost of $536 million a year just to pay the cost of vouchers for students who currently attend private schools.
  • HB 11- Sponsored by Representatives Riordan McClain (R- Nevada) and Marilyn John (R- Shelby), HB 11 is a universal voucher bill that would make all K-12 students eligible for a new “backpack scholarship.” If enacted, the bill would provide funds for tuition at private schools and for homeschooling. Unlike current voucher programs, HB 11 would pay for tuition at both chartered and non-chartered private schools. Largely unregulated non-chartered schools are not eligible to participate in EdChoice. The estimated cost of HB 11 is expected to be much higher than other proposals because of this.

Click here to contact your legislators and urge them to oppose harmful provisions such as universal vouchers.

Senate Passes Bill Changing Powers and Duties of State Board of Education

On Wednesday, March 1, 2023, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 1 by a 26-7, party-line vote. The bill, sponsored by Senator William Reineke (R- Tiffin), would change the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and transfer most of them to a newly created cabinet-level department under the Governor. The bill creates the Department of Education and Workforce which would oversee most education policy in the state. The State Board of Education would continue to exist, but its duties would largely be limited to licensure, educator discipline, evaluation and school district territory transfers.

In testimony before the Senate Education Committee, OEA outlined a number of concerns with the proposal. SB 1 proposes a dramatic shift in the way that education is overseen and supported in Ohio. OEA urged lawmakers to work collaboratively with education stakeholders so that any changes were well understood. Further, OEA urged that the voice of educators be protected and that educators have a meaningful impact on policy decisions. Specifically, OEA asked the bill to be amended in the following ways:

  • Leave rule making authority with the State Board of Education. This offers open hearings, a public process, and more transparency.
  • Leave the development of academic standards and model curriculum with the State Board of Education. Educators have a key role in developing content standards. The deliberative process of SBOE allows for public input and transparency.
  • Build in stakeholder group representation (including OEA) during the transition period and thereafter.
  • Remove provisions that lift oversight and prohibit further rules regarding home education.

An amendment was adopted by the committee to allow more public input during the rulemaking process and allow for public meetings to hear stakeholder concerns. Otherwise, SB 1 is largely unchanged. The bill will now go to the Ohio House for hearings. The House Primary and Secondary Education Committee has had a number of hearings on House Bill 12, which is companion legislation to SB 1.

School District Funding Spreadsheets Released

The Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) recently released funding spreadsheets for school districts under House Bill 33, the Governor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025.  The spreadsheets for school district estimates and JVSD estimates show total state foundation aid for traditional districts increasing minimally by 2.1% in FY 2024 and 1.5% in FY 2025. It is important to note that these spreadsheets will change as modifications are made to the bill throughout the budget debate.  

OEA believes the Ohio General Assembly must prioritize state funding for public schools.  While the proposal contained in House Bill 33 continues the phase-in (years 3 and 4) of the Fair School Funding Plan, it does not provide needed updates to the base cost components.  The salary inputs used are from FY 2018 while the property and income values are based on more current data.  This results in the local share of funding education unfairly increasing and the state responsibility decreasing.  OEA is urging legislators to make necessary updates to the components of the funding model and fully implement the plan this biennium.

 

House Bill 33 – State Operating Budget Additional Policy Review

OEA Government Relations staff continued its review of House Bill 33 (Edwards), the state operating budget proposal for State Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. The review, linked here, contains summaries of various policy changes contained within HB 33 related to public education. As of today, the district-by-district spreadsheets that will indicate what each school district is estimated to receive from the Governor’s proposal in both years of the budget have yet to be released. Once they have been released, OEA Government Relations will share analysis of the district spreadsheets in a future budget edition of the Legislative Watch. For other information on how HB 33 impacts public education in Ohio, please refer to the budget editions of the Legislative Watch released on February 4, 2023, and February 7, 2023.

Senate Bill 14 – Allows Certain Veterans to Teach Without Educator License

Senate Bill 14, sponsored by Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), would allow military veterans meeting certain eligibility criteria to teach in Ohio’s classrooms without receiving the training and preparation otherwise necessary to obtain a professional educator license. The bill received first hearing sponsor testimony in the Ohio Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee on February 7, 2023. OEA opposes the bill but welcomes brave and dedicated servicemembers into Ohio’s classrooms when they are appropriately trained and licensed to teach. Additionally, OEA recommends that the General Assembly pursue a comprehensive set of solutions, like the policy recommendations from the OEA Educator Voice Academy Cadre on Teacher Recruitment and Retention, to recruit and retain qualified, committed educators for every public-school student in Ohio.

House Leadership Announces “Priority Bills”

On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R- Kitts Hill), held a press conference to unveil twelve priority bills for the 135th General Assembly.

Among the listed bills was House Bill 10, sponsored by Representatives Jaime Callender (R- Concord) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D- Cleveland), that expresses the intent of the General Assembly to continue to phase-in the Fair School Funding plan, and, “if practicable” fully phase it in sooner. However, the bill does not call for updating the base cost components of the plan which is critical to ensure that the funding plan is keeping up with the true cost of educating students. OEA appreciates the commitment to the Fair School Funding Plan and looks forward to working with members of the Ohio General Assembly to make improvements to the plan. 

Also listed as a priority bill was House Bill 11, sponsored by Representatives Riordan McClain (R- Nevada) and Marilyn John (R- Shelby), dubbed “the backpack bill”, which would create a universal voucher program where every K-12 student would be eligible to receive funds to pay for private school tuition or home education. OEA opposes the adoption or expansion of voucher programs. HB 11 would divert resources from public schools attended by 90% of Ohio’s students to provide vouchers to current private school students.

Additionally, House Bill 1, sponsored by Representative Adam Mathews (R-Lebanon), proposes to create a flat income tax rate of 2.75%.  Ohioans who make under $26,050 would continue to pay no income tax. To pay for the proposed income tax changes, the bill eliminates the state payment to local governments for the 10% and 2.5% tax rollbacks.  The elimination of these payments would result in an estimated $1.2 billion loss for school districts and other local government entities.  The bill also changes the local real property assessment percentage from 35% to no greater than 31.5%.   OEA is opposed to the bill. 

Below is a brief description of other bills mentioned that deal with education:

  • HB 6- Single-Sex Sports Teams: Requires schools, state institutions of higher education, and private colleges designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex. OEA is opposed to this bill.
  • HB 8- Parental Notification: Requires public schools to adopt a policy on parental notification on student health and well-being and instructional materials with sexually explicit content. OEA is opposed to this bill.
  • HB 9- Teacher Education Programs: Includes OEA supported reforms to the Resident Educator Program and Summative Assessment; supports “Grown Your Own Teacher Programs”; establishes a loan repayment program for eligible teachers.
  • HB 12- Reform the Department of Education: This bill would limit the powers of the State Board of Education and create a new cabinet level agency called the Department of Education and Workforce Development.

Also among more than 50 bills introduced in the House on Wednesday was House Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Representative Brian Stewart (R- Ashville). This is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would require 60% of the vote to approve future constitutional amendments on the ballot. OEA opposes this proposal as it undercuts majority rule and weakens the ability of Ohio voters to decide key issues.

OEA will continue to keep members apprised of key issues as they move through the legislative process and issue action alerts for you to make your voice heard on these important issues.

Senate Bill 47: Prohibits Certain Types of Paid Leave for Union Political Activity or Lobbying

SB 47, introduced by Senator Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City), has been introduced and assigned to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. OEA opposes SB 47, which prohibits public employers from providing, or agreeing to a provision in a collective bargaining agreement, that provides paid leave or any other form of compensation for a public employee to engage in either: (1) Political activities performed by, or on behalf of, an employee organization that involve advocating for the election or defeat of any political candidate; (2) Lobbying activities performed by, or on behalf of, an employee organization that involve attempting to influence the passage or defeat of federal or state legislation, local ordinances, or any ballot measure.

Senate Bill 49: Student Religious Expression Days

SB 49, introduced by Senator Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester), received first hearing sponsor testimony in the Ohio Senate Education Committee on February 14, 2023. SB 49 requires each public school to adopt a policy that reasonably accommodates the sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of students, which includes three excused absences for religious expression days. OEA is reviewing the bill.

Congressional Bills Push for Teacher Pay Increases

OEA’s efforts to increase the minimum teacher salary will be joined by federal efforts to increase teacher pay with two separate bills in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Teacher Act, which was reintroduced by Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) last week, would incentivize states and school districts to increase the minimum teacher salary to $60,000 and provide yearly adjustments for inflation through a new federal grant program.

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced at a town hall on Monday evening that he intends to introduce the Pay Teachers Act. Joined by NEA President Becky Pringle, Sen. Sanders emphasized the need to increase teacher pay to “attract the best and brightest young people in our country into teaching [and ensure that] those young people [are] proud of the profession they have chosen.”

Both the American Teachers Act and the Pay Teachers Act elevate what NEA President Pringle called a “teacher pay crisis” at the Sanders town hall as one of the primary reasons for ongoing staffing shortages across the country.  These Bills help elevate the focus on the educator staffing crisis and provide support from the national level to OEA’s efforts to address the educator staffing shortage in Ohio.  OEA continues to advance the recommendations of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Educator Voice Academy during the 135th General Assembly to secure legislative initiatives to recruit and retain qualified, committed educators for every public-school student in Ohio.

 

OEA Participates in Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition Advocacy

OEA is a proud member of the Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition (OCBC). The Coalition was established in 2018 and is a partnership of organizations committed to prioritizing the needs of children in Ohio’s state policy and budget decisions. Recently, OCBC released the FY 2024-2025 Biennial Budget Issue Book, Creating a Vision of Child Well-Being for Ohio. OEA was proud to author two of the issue briefs regarding school funding and recommendations to recruit and retain well-qualified teachers and support professionals. Additionally, through the Coalition, OEA President Scott DiMauro participated in a briefing with the Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiative where he reviewed the School Funding and Educator Shortage issue brief policy recommendations. You may view the entire OCBC issue book at POLICY ISSUE BRIEFS (ohiochildrensbudget.org).

DeWine Releases Executive Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, Governor DeWine unveiled his budget priorities during his State of the State address. Following the speech, he released his Executive Budget Blue Book for Fiscal Years (FY) 2024 and 2025. DeWine stated that his goal in this budget is to ensure that all Ohioans are educated and have the tools needed to live up to their potential.

Below is a review of the governor’s proposal for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Department of Youth Services, Deaf and Blind Education Services, and the State Library. Please note that there are few details at this point as the actual budget language has yet to be released. OEA is also waiting for the release of the district-by-district spreadsheets. OEA Government Relations staff will share additional information as it becomes available.

Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Institution Education Services FY 2024 – $46,106,500 – 24.7% increase
FY 2025 – $51,157,600 – 11.0% increase
Education Services FY 2024 – $4,660,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $4,660,000 – 0.0%
Prisoner Programs FY 2024 – $400,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $400,000 – 0.0%
Adult Education Programs* FY 2024 – $9,796,802 – 0.3% increase
FY 2025 – $9,822,473 – 0.3% increase
All Funds – DRC FY 2024 – $2,330,539,100 – 7.9% increase
FY 2025 – $2,465,701,200 – 5.8% increase


* Portions of funding available to DRC for GED test reimbursements (funded through ODE).
Department of Youth Services

Education Education Services FY 2024 – $3,718,100 – 42.9% increase
FY 2025 – $3,915,300 – 5.3% increase
Education FY 2024 – $1,263,900 – 4.8% decrease
FY 2025 – $1,046,900 – 17.2% decrease
Vocational Education FY 2024 – $1,482,700 – 1.7% increase
FY 2025 – $1,482,700 – 0.0%
RECLAIM FY 2024 – $205,308,400 – 19.6% increase
FY 2025 – $206,110,900 – 0.4% increase
All Funds – DYS FY 2024 – $283,078,500 – 13.9%increase
FY 2025 – $284,013,300 – 0.3% increase

Deaf and Blind Education Services

  • Governor DeWine’s budget recommendations will create the Ohio Deaf and Blind Education Services by restructuring the budgets of the Ohio State School for the Blind and Ohio School for the Deaf. The restructured budget will provide flexibility to better serve fluctuating needs of the schools’ student populations.
  • Provides $0.5 million each fiscal year for additional academic supports, including an additional high school teacher for each school. The teachers will support students in obtaining diploma seals, including the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, to meet Ohio’s graduation requirements. Teachers will receive evidence-based professional development for identifying and instructing students with dyslexia, and the schools will replace outdated curriculum with high-quality instructional materials.
  • Provides $0.4 million each fiscal year to support five additional classroom instructional aides at the School for the Deaf. The additional aides support teachers and assist students with reading, writing, language, and self-care.
  • Provides funding for a nurse supervisor to oversee the 24-hour care of students living on campus. The budget also provides a new tour bus for fieldtrips for the schools.

Blind School Education Program FY 2024 – $313,952 – 3.1% increase
FY 2025 – $315,608 – 0.5% increase
Deaf School Education Program FY 2024 – $300,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $300,000 – 0.0%
Blind School State Grants FY 2024 – $260,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $260,000 – 0.0%
Deaf School State Grants FY 2024 – $195,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $195,000 – 0.0%
Blind School Federal Grants FY 2024 – $1,058,848 – 7.7% decrease
FY 2025 – $1,061,679 – 0.3% increase
Deaf School Federal Grants FY 2024 – 570,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – 535,030 – 6.1% increase
Library for the Blind (via State Library) FY 2024 – $1,274,194 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $1,274,194 – 0.0%
Early Childhood Education FY 2024 – $53,000 – 0.0%
FY 2025 – $53,000 – 0.0%
Employee Food Service Charges FY 2024 – $22,000 – 109.5% increase
FY 2025 – $22,000 – 0.0%
All Funds – D & B Ed Services FY 2024 – $33,352,431 – 116.3% increase
FY 2025 – $33,741,531 – 1.2% increase

State Library

All Funds – State Library FY 2024 – $24,981,491 – 6.1% increase
FY 2025 – $24,981,491 – 0.0%

 

DeWine Releases Executive Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, Governor DeWine unveiled his budget priorities during his State of the State address. Following the speech, he released his Executive Budget Blue Book for Fiscal Years (FY) 2024 and 2025. DeWine stated that his goal in this budget is to ensure that all Ohioans are educated and have the tools needed to live up to their potential.

Below is a review of the governor’s proposal for K-12 Education, Higher Education, and Developmental Disabilities. A second budget overview for state agencies will be released Tuesday of next week. Please note that there are few details at this point as the actual budget language has yet to be released. OEA is also waiting for the release of the district-by-district spreadsheets. OEA Government Relations staff will share additional information as it becomes available.

K-12 Education

School Funding
DeWine’s budget proposal continues to implement the Fair School Funding Plan established in the last budget cycle. The Fair School Funding Plan provides a predictable student-centered formula that is based upon how much it costs to educate a child and how much a local community can afford to contribute to these costs.
OEA will continue to advocate for the Ohio General Assembly to make necessary updates to the components of the funding model and to fully implement the plan this biennium.

School Choice
After the positive news of plans to continue implementation of the Fair School Funding Plan, DeWine announced that he was proposing a huge expansion in eligibility for the income-based EdChoice voucher program. The proposal would increase eligibility from 250% of the federal poverty level ($75,000 for a family of four) to 400% ($120,000 for a family of four). OEA strongly opposes the expansion of this voucher program that drains needed resources from the 90% of students who attend public schools.

Additionally, the budget appropriates $125 million in each fiscal year, an increase of 131.5% from FY 2023 levels, for the Quality Community Schools Support line item. The stated intent of the increase is to provide the highest performing charters schools with an additional $3,000 per economically disadvantaged student. The plan also increases the per-pupil charter school facilities funding from $500 to $1,000 per pupil.

Literacy
The Executive budget proposal provides approximately a $114 million increase in FY 2024 ($115,823,591) for literacy improvement. The appropriation decreases in FY 2025 to $58.3 million, a 49.6% reduction from FY 2024. The stated use for these funds is to “ensure all schools are using high-quality instructional material aligned with evidence-based reading instruction and intervention.” Additionally, the funds will support ODE to create professional development coursework for literacy instruction, provide funds for schools to incorporate this training, and support up to 100 additional literacy coaches in schools and districts with the lowest reading proficiency.

Additional Provisions

  • The proposal eliminates the school bus purchase program.
  • The proposal invests $200 million in FY 2024 for career technical capital improvements and $50 million in each year for career technical education equipment.
  • The budget provides for $194 million in both FY 2024 and 2025 for school resource officers in every school building.
  • The proposal provides $15 million to increase access to College Credit Plus by providing high school teachers with additional training needed to instruct college courses at high school campuses.
  • The proposal provides an $8.3 million increase in FY 2024 ($23,480,788) over FY 2023 funding levels for the Ohio Educational Computer Network. In FY 2025, this appropriation ($20,273,329) decreases by $3.2 million.
  • The budget increases auxiliary services reimbursement for non-public schools by 2.7% in FY 2024 ($162,927,159) and 2.4% in FY 2025 ($166,853,704).
  • The proposal provides $7.5 million in each FY for school-based health care centers.
  • The budget shifts funding support for Early Childhood Education from the Ohio Department of Education to the newly proposed Department of Children and Youth. Additionally, the proposal provides $11.3 million in each year of the biennium to increase those credentialed for early childhood mental health in order to provide screening services for needed care and treatment.

K-12 GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2024 – $9.0 billion – 6.4% increase
FY 2025 – $9.2 billion – 2.1% increase
K-12 All Funds FY 2024 – $15.1 billion – 5.6% decrease
FY 2025 – $13.6 billion –10.4% decrease

Higher Education

DeWine’s higher education recommendations prioritize access for students. He proposed a $100 million increase in each of the years for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), a needs-based program. Students beginning as freshman in the Fall of 2023 whose families adjusted gross income is $87,000 or less will be eligible for the OCOG. Award amounts are also expected to increase.

The newly proposed Ohio College Access Grant would be awarded to students who attend Ohio community colleges and state university regional branch campuses. The Governor’s Merit Scholarship would provide renewable $5,000 scholarships to every student in the top five percent of their high school graduating class to attend an Ohio college or university.

Additionally, the budget funds programs that seek to address barriers to college completion. Mental health support is funded at $10.0 million in each year of the biennium, Access Challenge at $40 million in each year, and a mentoring scholarship program funded at $13.5 million over the biennium.

State Share of Instruction FY 2024 – $2.138 billion – 3.0% increase
FY 2025 – $2.202 billion – 3.0% increase
Ohio College Opportunity Grant FY 2024 – $216.2 million – 92.2% increase
FY 2025 – $346.0 million – 60.1% increase
Governor’s Merit Scholarship FY 2024 – $18.0 million – New
FY 2025 – $34.2 million – 90.0% increase
Ohio College Access Grant FY 2024 – $14.2 million – New
FY 2025 – $26.6 million – 85.8% increase
Teacher Apprenticeship Program FY 2024 – $120,000 – New
FY 2025 – $3.66 million – 2,929.4% increase
Central State Supplement FY 2024 – $12.0 million – 3.0% increase
FY 2025 – $12.4 million – 3.0% increase
Shawnee State Supplement FY 2024 – $5.5 million – 3.0% increase
FY 2025 – $5.7 million – 3.0% increase
GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2024 – $3.0 billion – 9.5% increase
FY 2025 – $3.3 billion – 9.0% increase
All Funds FY 2024 – $3.3 billion – 16.4% increase
FY 2025 – $3.4 billion – 2.2% increase

Developmental Disabilities

Multi System Youth FY 2024 – $7.0 million – 75.0% increase
FY 2025 – $7.0 million – 0.0% increase
Part C Early Intervention* FY 2024 – $23.4 million – 0.0% increase
FY 2025 – $23.4 million – 0.0% increase


*This line item is transferred from Developmental Disabilities to the newly proposed Department of Children and Youth.

Technology First FY 2024 – $6.0 million – New
FY 2025 – $6.0 million – 0.0% increase
Employment First FY 2024 – $2.7 million – 0.0% increase
FY 2025 – $2.7 million – 0.0% increase
GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2024 – $833.0 million – 2.0% increase
FY 2025 – $910.5 million – 9.3% increase
All Funds FY 2024 – $4.4 billion – 4.0% increase
FY 2025 – $4.6 billion – 5.2% increase

OEA Lays Out Legislative Priorities for the 135th General Assembly

The new legislative session will bring challenges, but also presents a tremendous opportunity to address the needs of Ohio’s students and educators and invest in public education. OEA has developed a list of legislative priorities for the 135th General Assembly that will be the focus of our advocacy efforts with legislators. These priorities are aimed at providing needed support to Ohio’s educators and students.

Ohio is in a strong fiscal position and has the opportunity and obligation to fully implement the Fair School Funding Plan. Further, Ohio’s policymakers must take bold action to address the educator shortage in our schools. Below is a list of the issues identified as top legislative priorities for the OEA:

  • Fully Fund the Fair School Funding Plan
  • Recruit and Retain Qualified, Committed Educators for Every Public-School Student in Ohio
  • End the Expansion of Private School Voucher Programs
  • Repeal Mandatory Student Retention Under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee
  • Support Student and Staff Well Being
  • Protect the Voice of Educators – Support Unions and Defend Collective Bargaining Rights

You can view the document in its entirety by clicking here. OEA is sending the Legislative Priorities document to Governor DeWine and all members of the General Assembly. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of legislative issues. OEA will continue to work toward passing legislation that advances the legislative policies adopted by our members as well as combating legislative proposals that would be harmful to students, schools, and educators. 

2021-2022 | 134th Ohio General Assembly

HJR 6 Does Not Advance in Lame Duck

A proposal that would weaken the voice of Ohio voters by making it much more difficult to pass citizen-led constitutional amendments failed to advance in lame duck session. House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR 6) was a proposed constitutional amendment that if passed would require 60% of the vote in order to pass future constitutional amendments. 
 
OEA is among a broad coalition of groups that have signed on in strong opposition to this proposal. The coalition held a Statehouse rally and press event on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. The message to the legislature was that HJR 6 is unfair, undemocratic, unpopular, and would hurt Ohio’s voters. 
 
HJR 6 was voted out of the House Government Oversight Committee on a party line vote. However, the resolution was never scheduled for a vote on the House floor as it did not have the votes needed for passage. It is likely that a new version of the proposal will be introduced when the legislature begins its next session in January. 

Anti-Honesty in Education Censorship Bills Fail to Pass in 134th Ohio General Assembly 

OEA member advocacy and work with coalition partners has stopped the passage of harmful censorship bills that would have targeted educators for teaching honesty in education. Despite a two-year sustained effort by anti-honesty in education legislators and anti-public education groups such as the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), OEA and its allies stopped numerous bills seeking to attack educators and students. Harmful proposals that never made it out of committee include several bills that would have implemented severe anti-honesty in education censorship with harsh penalties for educators (HB 322, HB 327, HB 616), along with legislation that would have required constant posting of classroom instructional materials on school district websites (HB 529) for review by curriculum critics. While it is possible these anti-honesty in education attacks could reappear in the next Ohio General Assembly (135th 2023-2024), OEA remains prepared to provide strong opposition to these types of attacks. 

Efforts to Gut State Board of Education Fails on House Floor

A proposal to drastically reduce the powers and duties of the State Board of Education fell short of passage in the final hours of the legislative session. Senate Bill 178 would have moved most of the oversight of education in Ohio away from the State Board of Education and into a newly created cabinet-level department under the Governor. The bill passed the Senate last week and had three hearings in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. 
 
Rather than passing the bill out of committee, the Senate amended a separate bill (HB 151) to include the proposal. However, when HB 151 came to the House for a vote to concur with Senate amendments, the vote fell short of the 50 votes needed for passage.  
 
OEA testified in the House in opposition to SB 178. OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing stated that the substance of the bill left many unanswered questions and that such a drastic change should not be rushed through in the waning days of session.
 
It is likely that a similar proposal will be considered next year. OEA believes it is worth taking a hard look at how Ohio’s schools are governed and supported at the state level. However, collaboration is key. Collaboration was sorely lacking in the rushed process of the last few weeks. Stakeholders need to be at the table. The voices of Ohio’s educators need to be heard, valued, and central to any change. That is how we will get the best results for Ohio’s students. 

Ohio General Assembly Approves Spending Bill

Earlier this week, the Ohio General Assembly approved House Bill 45, a tax amnesty measure, that was amended to include over $6 billion in spending on various programs.  The majority of the funds appropriated are federal pandemic relief funds.   

OEA is pleased with the increase in the phase-in percentage, to 33%, for the Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA) component of the Fair School Funding model.  This results in approximately $56 million in additional support in FY 2023 for school districts to better meet the needs of economically disadvantaged students.
 
The major education related provisions of the bill are listed below. 

  • $1.75 billion in Federal Coronavirus School Relief funds.  
  • Increases the phase-in percentage for disadvantaged pupil impact aid from 14% to 33.33%, resulting in an increase in State General Revenue Fund support of approximately $56 million for FY 2023.  
  • $112 million in federal funds to be used by the Facilities Construction Commission to award competitive grants of up to $100,000 per school buildings for security and safety enhancements.  
  • Makes the following changes to the Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) Educational Savings Account Program (this was one of Senate President Huffman’s lame duck priorities):  
    • Extends the ACE Program through FY 2024;  
    • Increases the amount of the account from $500 to $1,000 in FY 2023 and FY 2024;  
    • Increases the family income eligibility from at or below 300% of the federal poverty level to at or below 400% of the family’s adjusted gross income;  
    • Qualifies a student whose resident district ranked in the top 10% of the school districts according to the chronic absenteeism rate in the most recent school year;  
    • Qualifies a student whose resident district operates one or more school buildings designated as low performing under EdChoice; and  
    • Qualifies students in the Cleveland Municipal School District.    
  • Revises how the number of miles driven for school bus service are factored into the calculation of school district transportation payments. 
  • Allows a school district, community school, or chartered nonpublic school to conduct a raffle to raise money for the school district or school.

The bill is pending signature by Governor DeWine. 

HB 554 – Expired Educator Licenses Can Be Immediately Renewed for At Least Two Years 

The Ohio General Assembly approved House Bill 554 this week, a bi-partisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) and Rep. Mary Lightfoot (D-Westerville). HB 554 allows individuals with expired educator licenses to immediately receive a two-year temporary educator license from the State Board of Education. The two-year temporary license can be renewed into a 5-year professional educator license if the individual completes either 18 continuing education units (180 contact hours) or 6 semester hours of coursework in the area of licensure, or in an area related to the teaching field, during the period of the two-year temporary license. The Governor is expected to sign the bill, which will become effective 90 days after his signature. 

A variety of unrelated amendments were added to the bill before passage, including:  

  • A provision that includes all children identified as “developmentally delayed” into Category 2 of the special education funding formula (which will increase funding), which currently is limited to preschool children with developmental delays. 
  • Expands the definition of a “child with a disability” to include children ages three through nine who are experiencing a developmental delay, rather than the current law which defines developmentally delayed children ages three through five. 
  • Requires that children attending preschool as of the bill’s effective date who are identified as having a developmental delay and turn six years old on or before June 30, 2023, be permitted to remain in preschool and continue to be identified as having a developmental delay through June 30, 2023. 
  • Permits state universities to develop policies regarding the use of the university’s logos by student organizations. 
  • Requires any secondary school or college that participates in the College Credit Plus (CCP) program to permit children of military families enrolled in CCP who must withdraw due to their parents stationing orders the option to complete the coursework remotely or withdraw without academic or financial penalty. 
  • Removes registered behavior technicians and certified behavioral analysts who are under supervision or in training status from the list of individuals who may provide intervention services under the Autism Scholarship Program. 
  • Requires the Department of Education to prescribe standards to allow transfer students to use their pretransfer state assessment scores to meet the high school graduation requirements at their new school. 

Legislature Passes Bill that Limits Voting Rights

In the final days of session, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill that made numerous changes to Ohio elections. House Bill 458 was originally drafted to eliminate August special elections in most cases. The bill was amended in the Senate to include a strict photo ID requirement for voters, and a shorter deadline to return absentee ballots by mail, among other changes. The bill passed the Senate 24-7 and the House voted to concur with Senate amendments by a vote of 55-32. 
 
OEA opposed the bill. Legislative policies adopted by OEA members state opposition to a strict voter ID law as this can limit the ability of voters without a driver’s license (such as students, the elderly, and the disabled) to exercise their right to vote. Additionally, OEA legislative policies oppose elimination of the August special election as it limits the ability of local school districts to seek levies in order to meet community needs. Further, the bill reduces the time for absentee ballots sent before election day to be received by the board of elections from ten days to four. This will lead to some voters, including members of the military serving overseas, having their votes not counted due to slowed mail delivery. 

Bill to Repeal Retention Under the TGRG Not Enacted

House Bill 497, sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon), was not brought up for a vote in the Ohio Senate. The bill called for elimination of mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and a reduction in state testing. The bill passed the House in June with broad, bipartisan support (82-10). Further, the State Board of Education recently voted 18-1 in favor of a resolution urging passage of the bill. Despite this, the bill received two hearings in the Senate but was not brought up for a vote. 

OEA strongly supports this proposed bill. Educators know that basing high-stakes decisions on standardized test scores is not in the best interests of students. OEA will continue to advocate for this important measure in the next General Assembly.

HB 509 – School Psychologist Licenses Moved from ODE to State Board of Psychology 

House Bill 509 (Occupational Licenses) was amended prior to passage this week to create a new school psychologist license granted by the State Board of Psychology, specifically for practice in school settings. The State Board of Psychology will continue to issue a school psychologist license for practice outside of school settings. The school psychologist license issues by the State Board of Education will be phased out. The bill requires the State Board of Education and State Board of Psychology to coordinate implementation of the changes described above not later than January 1, 2025. 

OEA Testifies Against HJR 6

There continues to be strong opposition to a proposal that would make it much harder for voters to amend the Ohio Constitution. House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR 6) would require a supermajority of 60% of the vote to pass a citizen-led initiative. HJR6 would make it much more challenging to pass amendments to advance the interests of students and educators, including a potential constitutional amendment to fully and fairly fund Ohio’s public schools.

OEA President Scott DiMauro testified in opposition to HJR 6 on Wednesday. Click here to read OEA’s testimony. Opponents vastly outnumbered supporters of the proposal over two days of hearings. A vast and growing coalition of over 150 groups has signed to fight the proposal. HJR 6 is truly unfair, undemocratic, and unpopular. It seeks to silence the will of the people by blunting the ability of Ohio citizens to advance issues that the legislature is either unable or unwilling to address.

HJR 6 is still under consideration in the House Government Oversight Committee, which could hold a vote as early as Monday. Click here to urge your State Senator and State Representative to oppose HJR 6.

Senate Passes Bill Shifting Education to Governor

Despite a rushed process that didn’t allow for meaningful stakeholder input, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 178 by a vote of 22-7. The bill, sponsored by Senator William Reineke (R-Tiffin), is a proposal to limit the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and create a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and Workforce. The new department would be under the Governor and oversee most issues currently under the purview of the State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education.

OEA President Scott DiMauro testified as an interested party in the legislation. Mr. DiMauro stated that it is worth reviewing the best way to oversee and support education; however, the process should be timely. Stakeholders should have the opportunity to share concerns and have them addressed. OEA cautioned against passing the bill during the lame-duck session’s waning days.

Senate Bill 178 had four hearings—three allowing for public testimony. Two of those hearings occurred after a 2,100-page substitute bill was adopted. Only the final hearing allowed for opponent testimony. Opponents outnumbered proponents 25 to 18, with seven testifying as interested parties. Like OEA, interested parties outlined significant questions or reservations. The only change to the substitute bill adopted by the committee was to make the effective date earlier.

With little time left in the legislative session, the bill will head to the Ohio House.

Ohio Senate Committee Replaces Trans Sports Gender Exam with Birth Certificate Requirement

On December 6, 2022, the Ohio Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee removed a provision in House Bill 151 (HB 151) that would have allowed gender exams to verify the biological sex of trans athletes seeking to play single-sex sports. Instead, the new language would require a school, athletic conference, interscholastic athletics organization, state institution, or private college to determine a disputed participant’s sex based on the sex that appears on the participant’s original birth certificate. Separately, HB 151 contains reforms to the resident educator program and summative assessment intended to streamline and improve the experience of early career educators. The trans sports language amended by the Senate was added to the bill in a last-minute House floor amendment. OEA is opposed to adding this amendment to HB 151 and believes this issue should be addressed through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, such as the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which already has a process regarding trans athlete participation.

The following is a summary of the Ohio Senate trans sports provisions in HB 151:

  • Permits students of the female sex to participate within male sports divisions of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics.
  • Expressly prohibits students of the male sex from participating in female sports divisions and teams.
  • Removes the requirement that, when disputed, a student’s sex be determined using a signed physician’s statement indicating the participant’s sex. Instead, it requires a school, athletic conference, interscholastic athletics organization, state institution, or private college to determine a disputed participant’s sex based on the sex that appears on the participant’s original birth certificate.
  • Removes the provision of the bill that authorizes an athletic participant to file a civil action if the participant is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers harm because of a violation of the bill’s single-sex participation requirements or if the participant is subject to retaliation for reporting such a violation.

OEA Opposes Proposal to Require Supermajority for Citizen-Led Initiatives

Democracy in Ohio is facing a new attack with the constitutional amendment proposed by Secretary of State Frank LaRose and State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville). House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR 6) would make it much harder to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments in our state by requiring a supermajority of 60% of the vote. This would make it much more difficult to pass amendments to advance the interests of students and educators, including a potential constitutional amendment to fully and fairly fund Ohio’s public schools.  

For more than 100 years, Ohioans have had the power to set the policy agenda for our state and enshrine rights into our state constitution through direct democracy. Citizen-led constitutional ballot initiatives are never undertaken lightly. To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, citizen groups are required to collect nearly half a million verified signatures from at least half of Ohio’s counties. Changing the rules so only 40% of voters can block the will of the rest of the state’s citizens when these issues are on the ballot is unfair and wrong. A substitute version of HJR 6 would apply the 60% threshold to passage of citizen-led initiatives and constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature. 

OEA strongly opposes HJR 6 and is joined by over 140 groups who signed a letter of opposition. Organized labor, voting rights groups, civil rights organizations, religious organizations—groups on the left, right, and center of the political spectrum—have expressed opposition to this proposal. We cannot allow politicians in Columbus to ignore the will of the people. We must come together to protect the fundamental right of Ohio’s voters to decide critical issues at the ballot box.  

Click here to urge your legislators to oppose HJR 6. 

OEA Cautions Against Rush to Restructure Education Governance in Lame Duck Session 

Senate Bill 178, sponsored by Senator William Reineke (R-Tiffin), is a proposal to limit the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and create a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and Workforce. The new department would be under the Governor and oversee most issues currently under the purview of the State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education.  

On Wednesday, November 30, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified before the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee expressing reservations about the proposal and the speed at which it is being considered. A day earlier, the committee accepted a substitute bill that is over 2,100 pages. The original bill was a single sentence. The full Senate may vote on the proposal as early as next week. 

President DiMauro stated in his testimony, “SB 178 proposes a significant shift in the way education is overseen and supported in Ohio. I do not believe that this type of change should be enacted in the waning days of session. Stakeholder input is needed.”  

Click here to read OEA’s full testimony.

SBOE Urges Elimination of Mandatory Student Retention Under the TGRG

On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, the State Board of Education passed a resolution calling upon the General Assembly to end the harmful practice of mandatory retention of students under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. OEA has long advocated for such a change because high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on standardized test scores. The Board’s resolution passed by a wide margin of 18-1.

Passage of this resolution is further evidence of broad, bipartisan support for ending mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. House Bill 497, which passed the House in June by a vote of 82-10, would accomplish this. Passage of HB 497 would allow for educators and parents to make determinations about student retention based on the best interests and abilities of the student. 

In order to become law, HB 497 needs to be passed by the Ohio Senate before the end of the year. Click here to urge your Senator to support this important bill.

Proposal Would Limit Powers of State Board, Make Education and Workforce a Cabinet Agency

Senator William Reineke (R- Tiffin) is sponsoring a bill to severely limit the powers and duties of the State Board of Education. Senate Bill 178 as introduced was a single sentence expressing the intent of the General Assembly to “reform the functions and responsibilities of the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Education.” During sponsor testimony before the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee, Reineke outlined the provisions of a forthcoming substitute bill.

The bill would restructure the Department of Education and create a new cabinet level agency under the Governor. The Department of Education and Workforce would have a director appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The department would be divided into two divisions: Primary and Secondary Education, and Career Technical Education. This new department would be generally responsible for enforcing and adopting rules under the Ohio Administrative Code.

The State Board of Education would continue to exist with no change in its structure or membership. However, the functions of the Board would be limited to implementation and enforcement of rules regarding teacher licensure; review and rendering disposition of cases involving educator or staff conduct; and review and decisions of school district territory transfers. In all other matters the Board could make recommendations to the newly formed department. The Board would also continue to appoint the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but he or she would serve as Board Secretary and an advisor to the Director of the Department of Education and Workforce.

OEA has concerns about this type of change being considered in the limited timeline of lame duck session. The needs and concerns of all stakeholders must be heard and addressed to ensure that students, educators, and schools receive the support and resources they need for success. Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, has stated that the bill will receive several hearings and may be voted on by the Senate in the coming weeks.

Changes to Elections and Voting Rights Poised to Move in Lame Duck

A substitute version of House Bill 294 was unveiled this week. The bill, sponsored by Bill Seitz (R- Green Township) and Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth), would make several changes to election laws and voting rights. The bill would require voters to use a photo ID. Current law allows voters who do not have a state issued ID to use utility bills or bank statements as identification. The bill would also eliminate August special elections. Other changes include prohibiting the Secretary of State from sending unsolicited absentee ballot requests to Ohio voters and removing language to allow the BMV to update voter information.

OEA’s legislative policies support the ability of citizens to freely and easily exercise their right to vote. Specifically, we have a policy to oppose strict photo ID laws for voters as they can serve as an unnecessary hurdle for voters including college students, the elderly, poor and disabled. OEA also has a policy opposing elimination of the August special election as it limits the opportunities for school districts to seek levies.

HB 554 (R-Bird/D-Lightbody) – Expedited Pathway for Renewing Expired Educator Licenses

After being passed unanimously by the Ohio House of Representatives before summer recess, HB 554 received its first hearing in the Ohio Senate Education Primary & Secondary Committee on November 15, 2022. OEA supports HB 554, which is designed to be one piece in the larger puzzle of reducing teacher shortages.

HB 554 does the following:

  • Requires the State Board of Education, upon application, to issue a nonrenewable, two-year temporary educator license to individuals with expired professional teacher’s certificates or professional educator licenses.
  • Requires the State Board to issue a professional educator license with any applicable endorsements to an individual who, during the duration of the temporary license, completes either 18 continuing education units (180 contact hours) or 6 semester hours of coursework in the area of licensure or in an area related to the teaching field. The professional educator license and any endorsements are valid for teaching in the same subject areas and grades for which individual’s expired certificate or license was issued.

HB 748 – Requires Local Board Policy on Professional Conduct

HB 748 (R-Bird) received first hearing bill sponsor testimony on November 15, 2022 in the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Committee. HB 748 would require local boards of education to adopt a policy declaring that the board expects all professional staff members to maintain high standards with respect to co-worker relationships and in the performance of the staff member’s professional duties. OEA has concerns with including professional conduct requirements in Ohio law, which will create confusion with professional conduct guidance already provided in the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct that is approved by the State Board of Education.

HB 748 requires local school boards to adopt policies that prohibit school employees from doing the following:

  • Engaging in political, partisan, ideological, or religious advocacy by compelling a student to adopt, affirm, or adhere to a specific political, partisan, ideological, or religious belief;
  • Unfairly evaluating a student’s work because it does not reflect a specific political, partisan, ideological, or religious belief.

Advocacy Continues to Repeal Mandatory Student Retention

This week the State Board of Education’s Legislative Committee unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the legislature repeal mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The resolution is expected to be considered by the full Board at its November meeting.

House Bill 497 is legislation currently pending that would end mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Guarantee. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon), passed the Ohio House 82-10 and is now pending in the Senate. OEA supports this bill based on a belief that high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on standardized test scores. Repealing the mandatory retention requirement would allow educators and parents to make decisions about what is best for students.

On Monday, OEA held a virtual press conference in support of repealing mandatory retention and passage of House Bill 497. Speakers included OEA member Karen Carney, Representative Gayle Manning, State Board of Education member Dr. Christina Collins, and Furman University Professor Dr. Paul Thomas. They noted that the evidence shows student retention has not improved reading proficiency and has been harmful to students.

OEA is urging members of the Ohio Senate to pass House Bill 497 before the end of the year. To contact your state senator and urge them to support the bill, click here.

Senate Bill 361 Introduced — Allows Military Veterans to Teach Without Educator License

SB 361 (R-Hoagland) was introduced on October 3, 2022, and has yet to be assigned to committee. OEA opposes SB 361, which allows certain military veterans to teach in Ohio’s classrooms without receiving the training and preparation otherwise necessary to obtain a professional educator license. OEA welcomes brave and dedicated servicemembers into Ohio’s classrooms when they are appropriately trained and licensed to teach. In fact, Ohio already has an avenue for former service members to become licensed teachers through the Troops to Teachers program. More details are available in the OEA Government Relations SB 361 Bill Summary.

Educator licenses protect the interests of students and taxpayers. OEA opposes elimination of the requirement to hold an educator license for any reason, whether it be for individuals with a military background or another criteria. Elimination of the requirement to hold an educator license is a band-aid approach to the teacher shortage that cuts corners when it comes to serving the best interests of Ohio students. The teacher shortage in Ohio should be addressed with systemic changes that attract aspiring educators (including military veterans) and retain them in the profession (which is more likely if they are properly trained and licensed), while also ensuring all students receive the classroom instruction they deserve.

OEA’s comprehensive recommendations for addressing the teacher shortage in Ohio can be found in the recently released OEA Educator Voice Cadre Report on Teacher Recruitment and Retention (OEA Educator Voice Academy recommendations).

Bill that Dilutes Training Requirements for Armed School Staff Clears Ohio Legislature

Despite significant opposition from educators, parents, law enforcement, and concerned citizens, the Ohio Senate passed House Bill (HB) 99. The bill passed by a vote of 23-9 and Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) joined Democrats in opposition. The Ohio House of Representatives later concurred with Senate Amendments by a vote of 56-34. Representatives Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) joined Democrats in opposing the bill.

This bill would gut training requirements for teachers and other school staff members who are authorized by their local school districts to carry guns in school buildings. Additionally, it would reverse the 2021 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in Gabbard v. Madison Local School District Board of Education that upheld that armed educators need to complete over 700 hours of training.

Prior to the Senate floor vote, the Ohio Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee adopted a substitute bill. That bill would prescribe initial state training requirements to not exceed 24 hours and no more than 8 hours to be completed for requalification. The bill does allow for a local school district to require training to exceed these state maximums. Additionally, the bill creates the Ohio Mobile Training team within the Ohio Department of Public Safety to develop the curriculum and provide training to those individuals authorized to carry weapons in a school safety zone and support school districts in other items related to school safety.

OEA remains strongly opposed to HB 99 and urges Governor DeWine to veto the bill. OEA believes that state minimum training requirements must be rigorous, and that parents and the community must be adequately informed. HB 99 remains woefully inadequate in these measures.

You can contact Governor DeWine to urge him to veto HB 99 at 614-466-3555.

  • An analysis of the bill can be found here
  • Read OEA’s press release here
  • Find OEA’s HB 99 veto letter here
  • View OEA’s HB 99 testimony here

School Security Grants

On Wednesday, June 1, both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 687, the capital appropriations bill. The measure contains $100 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support school security grants.

Grants can be up to $100,000 per school building and will be awarded by the Ohio School Facilities Construction Commission. Guidelines for these grants will be adopted in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Governor DeWine is expected to sign HB 687.

Bill to End Student Retention Under Third Grade Reading Guarantee Clears House

On Wednesday, June 1, 2022, the Ohio House approved House Bill 497. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon), would eliminate student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Additionally, HB 497 would reduce state-mandated testing by limiting the 3rd grade English Language Arts test to a single administration each year.

OEA strongly supports HB 497. High-stakes decisions about students should not be based on a test score. Further, reducing the time spent on standardized testing will free up more time for teaching and learning in the classroom.

HB 497 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 80-10. This bipartisan bill will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

HB 616: “Divisive Concept/Don’t Say Gay” Bill Gets First Hearing Testimony From Bill Sponsors

House Bill 616 received first hearing bill sponsor testimony in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. The committee heard testimony from the bill sponsors, Rep. Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township). The bill has no co-sponsors.

HB 616 doubles-down on state censorship of “divisive topics” from HB 327 and adds parts of Florida’s recently passed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Violations of “divisive topics” and “don’t say gay” prohibitions could result in educator license revocation and withholding of state funding for schools.

OEA opposes HB 616 and other similar legislation, such as HB 327 (R-Fowler/R-Grendell). Educators and students deserve the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment based on vague government prohibitions on speech and ideas. All Ohio children deserve an honest and reflective education that empowers them to become critical thinkers and future leaders.

Take action to protect educators and students. Use the OEA HB 616 Action Alert to send an email to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful legislation:

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

OEA Requests Line-Item Veto of HB 583 Amendments on Charters and Vouchers

Before passing a bill to extend a temporary law that provides flexibility in hiring substitute teachers, the Ohio Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee added numerous amendments on other subjects. OEA is requesting a line-item veto of two HB 583 amendments that undermine accountability for charter school sponsors and expand the state’s financial obligations under the income-based voucher program to families that no longer qualify.

HB 529 Gets Proponent Testimony Hearing – Requires Web Posting of Instructional Materials

The Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee held a second hearing on HB 529 on May 24, 2022. OEA opposes HB 529, which requires schools to post instructional materials on its website.

HB 151 – OEA Opposes Transgender Sports Ban Amendment

On June 1, 2022, Ohio House Republicans took a clean bill that sought to help early career educators and added the controversial transgender sports ban from HB 61 at the eleventh hour. OEA opposes the transgender sports ban addition to HB 151 and asks the Ohio Senate to remove this provision when it considers the bill.

Time and time again, certain members of the Ohio General Assembly use backdoor tactics to pass unsupported and controversial legislation. Instead of waging divisive culture wars, the Ohio General Assembly should focus tackling the real problems faced by Ohio’s public schools.

House Bill 616 has been scheduled for a first hearing in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at 3:00 PM, in Room 114 of the Ohio Statehouse. The committee will hear testimony from the bill sponsors, Rep. Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township). The bill has no co-sponsors.

HB 616 doubles-down on state censorship of “divisive topics” from HB 327 and adds parts of Florida’s recently passed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Violations of “divisive topics” and “don’t say gay” prohibitions could result in educator license revocation and withholding of state funding for schools.

HB 616 applies to school districts, charter schools, STEM schools, and private schools that enroll students in a state voucher program. Higher education institutions would be prohibited from including “divisive topics” in continuing education credits or professional development programs for educator license renewal.

OEA opposes HB 616 and other similar legislation, such as HB 327 (R-Fowler/R-Grendell). Educators and students deserve the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment based on vague government prohibitions on speech and ideas. All Ohio children deserve an honest and reflective education that empowers them to become critical thinkers and future leaders.

Take action to protect educators and students. Use the OEA HB 616 Action Alert to send an email to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful legislation:

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

House Bill 616 is an attack on students, educators, public schools, and Ohio’s collective future. The Ohio Education Association (OEA) denounces HB 616 and vows to continue the fight to ensure students have the freedom to learn and thrive.

HB 616 doubles-down on the worst parts of Ohio HB 327, the anti-freedom ‘divisive concepts bill,’ by adding the worst parts of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into the new proposed language, which applies to school districts, charter schools, STEM schools, and private schools that take state vouchers.

The bill was introduced on April 4, 2022, and is jointly sponsored by Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). There are no co-sponsors and the bill has yet to be assigned to an Ohio House legislative committee.

OEA and its allies will remain vigilant in fighting against legislation designed to threaten and silence students and educators, whether it is HB 616 or similar bills like HB 322 and HB 327 that have failed to make progress in the Ohio General Assembly.

In addition to harmful state censorship that undermines honesty in education, HB 616 targets LGBTQ students and their allies with a “don’t say gay” mandate. This comes at a time when LGBTQ students are three to four times more likely than non-LGBTQ students to report persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and even self-harm – not because of who they are but because of the hostility directed at them.

Join with OEA to advocate for truth in education, safe learning environments for students, and secure working conditions for educators.

TAKE ACTION: OEA Action Alert – HB 616 – Click here. Please invest a few minutes and send an email letter to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful bill.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

  • OEA HB 616 Bill Summary – Click here
  • OEA HB 616 Talking Points – Click here

Redistricting Update:  The Fight for Fair Maps Continues

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has passed three versions of district maps for the Ohio General Assembly that have been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court. It appears that could soon increase to four.

Previous plans, passed by Republicans on the Commission without Democratic support, were ruled to have been in violation of the 2015 Constitutional amendment passed by Ohio voters aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering.  The Court ruled that the plans unduly favored Republicans, in violation of the Constitution. The Court ordered the Redistricting Commission to start over and come up with a new plan by the end of day on Monday, March 28.

Things appeared to be somewhat different this time. The Commission brought in two independent mapmakers to work on drawing maps that comply with the Constitution and the Court’s order. Their work was streamed live to the public on the internet. Governor DeWine hinted that he would show some leadership and publicly stated that they would follow the Court’s order. All of that proved to be an illusion.

Hours before the Court’s deadline, the Republican majority on the Commission opted to jettison the work of the independent mapmakers they hired. Instead, they voted on a plan with minor tweaks to the last plan that they had passed—one that has already been ruled unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the Court is now asking members of the Commission why they shouldn’t be held in contempt.

It appears that the May 3rd primary election will go forward for offices other than the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. A challenge to the Congressional districts that were adopted by the Redistricting Commission will not be heard in time to prevent them from being used in the 2022 election.

Federal judges may ultimately rule on when a primary for General Assembly candidates will be held and what district boundaries will be used. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio reserves the right to intervene, perhaps by moving the primary to August 2nd, if the state doesn’t reach a resolution by April 20th.

OEA VP Wensing Testifies in Support of Bill to Eliminate Student Retention Under TGRG

On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified as a proponent of House Bill 497. The bill seeks to eliminate the retention provision of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Further, the bill would reduce the number of times that the state-mandated 3rd grade ELA state achievement test is administered.

OEA supports House Bill 497 because legislative policies adopted by our members oppose using standardized test scores to make high-stakes decisions about students. OEA also supports the reduction of testing in the bill as it will help to restore some time for teaching and learning in the classroom.

Click here to read Vice President Wensing’s full testimony. Several OEA members also provided testimony in support of the bill: Jennifer Bindus (Aurora), Sean McCullough (Licking Heights), Maureen Knostman (Dublin), and Michelle Cooper (Dublin).

To urge your state representative to support HB 497, click here.

HB 583: Extends Temporary Licensure of Substitute Teachers; Includes $338 Million Federal Funds for School Lunches

The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 583 this week. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate for consideration. HB 583 does the following:

  • Extends a temporary law measure through the 2023-24 school year that permits an individual to obtain a one-year substitute teaching license if the following conditions are met: 1. Meets the district’s or school’s own education requirements (rather than those prescribed by the State Board of Education); 2. Is deemed to be of good moral character; and 3. Successfully completes a criminal records check. This temporary standard for licensing substitute teachers has been in place since the 2020-21 school year due to Covid-related staffing challenges that exacerbated pre-existing shortages of substitute teachers.
  • Requires the chairpersons and ranking members of the Primary and Secondary Education committees of the House and Senate to form a study committee to address the shortage of substitute teachers and report its findings and present them to the House and Senate Primary and Secondary Education committees by October 30, 2022.
  • Appropriates $338 million of federal funds for FY 2022 for the National School Lunch Program.

State Legislative Maps Heading Back to Court

On Saturday, January 22, 2022, the Ohio Redistricting Commission passed revised state legislative maps. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the first, highly partisan maps passed by the Commission were unconstitutional because they were gerrymandered in favor of Republican candidates. The Court said the maps violated the provision of the voter-approved constitutional amendment that districts should closely correspond with the Ohioans’ voting preferences.

Once again, the revised maps were passed by a 5-2 party line vote. Although the revised maps come closer to the Court’s stated measure of Ohioans’ voting preferences (54% Republican to 46% Democrat), they still fall short. Fifty-seven of 99 House seats and 20 of 33 Senate seats were drawn to favor Republicans. Further, the Democratic leaning districts were highly competitive while the Republican districts were significantly less competitive.

Plaintiffs objected to the new maps Tuesday. In the filing made by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and other groups, they argue that the proposed maps still fail to comply with the Constitution. The plaintiffs also argue that there were plans submitted to the Commission that would comply with the Court’s order, but the Commission ignored them. The Court has ordered the Redistricting Commission to file a response to the complaint by noon Friday.

 

Ohio Supreme Court Rejects Highly Partisan General Assembly Maps

On Wednesday, January 12, 2022, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling that invalidates the highly gerrymandered state legislative districts that were adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission on a partisan basis. In 2015, Ohio voters passed a Constitutional amendment aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering.  In a 4-3 ruling, the Court stated that the plan failed to comply with provisions in the Constitution that the Commission attempt to match the statewide voting preferences of Ohio voters.

Over the past 10 years, voters in Ohio have favored Republicans over Democrats by a margin of 54% to 46%. However, the maps adopted by the Commission were drawn to give Republicans a two-thirds majority of the seats in both the House and the Senate. The Supreme Court invalidated the maps on the basis that the Commission did not attempt to correspond closely with the overall voting preferences of Ohioans.

OEA President Scott DiMauro praised the decision saying, “OEA applauds the wisdom of the Ohio Supreme Court to strike down gerrymandered maps that would have denied Ohioans a real voice at the Statehouse. This is a huge victory for Ohio voters and for Ohio schools, which are greatly impacted by the decisions of the state’s elected lawmakers.”

The majority opinion was written by Justice Melody Stewart and joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Justices Jennifer Brunner and Michael Donnelly. The three members who dissented and favored upholding the maps were Justices Sharon Kennedy, Patrick Fischer and Patrick DeWine.

The Court ordered the Ohio Redistricting Commission to reconvene and produce new maps within 10 days. Plaintiffs would then have three days to file any challenges to the revised maps.

Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Congressional Map

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down the highly partisan Congressional district map adopted by the Ohio General Assembly without Democratic support. Similar to the rejected General Assembly districts, the map failed to meet the requirements of a Constitutional amendment passed by voters aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering.

The 4-3 decision was written by Justice Michael Donnelly and joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Justices Jennifer Brunner and Melody Stewart. The Court ruled that the adopted plan violated the provision that a map could not unduly favor a political party. Despite a statewide voter preference of 54% Republican, the invalidated map would have favored Republicans in 12 of 15 Congressional districts.

Ohio lawmakers have 30 days to agree to new Congressional districts. If they cannot do so, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have 30 days to do so.

Bill Introduced to Re-Establish STRS COLA

Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) has introduced Senate Bill 280. The bill would require the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) to pay an annual 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to eligible retirees. Under current law, the STRS Board has authority to adjust the COLA amount as necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system. The bill would require at least a 2% annual COLA beginning on July 1, 2022.

After the Great Recession, STRS was projected to run out of money, which forced the adoption of pension reform legislation. Active teachers had their contributions increased, were forced to work longer and collect less in retirement. Retired teachers had the COLA reduced to 2% and the STRS Board further acted to freeze the COLA when the economy didn’t recover quickly enough. Thanks to shared sacrifice, and sound financial stewardship that has improved investment returns, STRS funding is now over 80%. The STRS Board is now in a position to consider restoration of the COLA as well as changes to benefit active teachers such as eliminating the age 60 requirement or decreased employee contributions.

SB 280, as currently written, would mandate a 2% annual COLA going forward without providing a way to pay for it. Actuaries project that such a change would increase STRS unfunded liabilities by over $13 billion—roughly a 66% increase. Because the legislation does not contain any mechanism for the state to cover this needed funding, it may put the benefits of active teachers at risk.

To be clear, retired teachers need and deserve cost-of-living adjustments. At the same time, the long-term ability of STRS to pay pensions to all its members is critical. Just as shoring up the funding of STRS has taken shared sacrifice, the improved funding should benefit active and retired teachers alike.

Bill Introduced to Require Teachers to Post Syllabi Online

HB 529, introduced by state Rep. Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, would require school districts, charter schools, public colleges (with respect to courses taught to secondary students through the college credit plus program), and private schools to post on its publicly accessible web site an internet link or title to all of the following used by each school, course, or classroom: every textbook, a course syllabus that includes a list of all “instructional materials” and activities to be “used for student instruction” in each instructional course, a written summary of each instructional course, the state academic standards related to each instructional course. OEA is currently reviewing the bill, which has not been assigned to committee yet. OEA remains concerned about any additional burdens being thrust upon members during these incredibly stressful times.

Urge DeWine to Veto Unconstitutional Redistricting Plan

Despite passage of a Constitutional amendment aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering, the Ohio legislature has passed a Congressional that heavily favors Republican candidates. In 2018, Ohio voters passed redistricting reform. The Constitution calls for an open and bipartisan process for drawing districts. That did not happen. Instead, Republican leadership rammed through a map that unduly favors their party in violation of the Constitution. The statewide voting preference of Ohioans is roughly 55% Republican and 45% Democrat. However, the proposed map would favor Republicans in 80% of the districts.

An amended version of SB 258 emerged on Monday night and was passed by the Senate on Tuesday (24-7) and by the House on Thursday (55-36). The bill is now headed to Governor DeWine for his signature. Gerrymandering, done for the benefit of either party, subverts our democracy. Click here to urge the Governor to stand up for the Constitution and the will of the voters by vetoing the bill.

If signed by Governor DeWine, the Congressional map would be in effect for four years instead of ten because it did not have bipartisan support. There is also certain to be a court challenge to the proposal.

Bill to Change Training Requirements for Armed School Staff Passes Ohio House
House Bill 99, a bill that would significantly decrease the current training hour requirements for armed school staff, passed out of the Ohio House by a vote of 59-33. Former educator, and Republican Representative Gayle Manning joined Democrats in voting no.

Prior to passage, Representative Leland (D-Columbus) offered an OEA supported amendment that would have strengthened training requirements and public notification portions of the bill.

OEA continues to be opposed to House Bill 99. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for deliberation.

House Bill 99 Passes out of House Committee

House Bill 99, sponsored by Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township), passed out of the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee by a party-line vote of 7-5. The bill would exempt a “person authorized to go armed within a school safety zone” from satisfactorily completing an approved basic peace officer training program. This would reverse the 2021 Ohio Supreme Court ruling on Gabbard v. Madison Local School District Board of Education.

Substitute House Bill 99 would prescribe state training requirements at a maximum of 20 hours of initial training and 4 additional hours to be completed annually. OEA believes this level of firearms training remains inadequate and will ultimately jeopardize the safety of students and staff.

Additionally, the measure requires a board of education or governing body of a school to notify the public that they have authorized one or more persons to go armed within a school of the board or governing body. However, the bill does not expressly state how often the governing body should notify the public and if school districts who have already authorized this policy are required to notify the public.

Representative David Leland (D-Columbus) offered two OEA supported amendments that were tabled. These amendments would have enhanced the notification provisions and removed the maximum training hour requirements and instead allow the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to determine the hours sufficient for training of armed school personnel.

OEA remains opposed to the bill.

OEA Continues to Oppose House Bill 99 – Training Requirements for Armed School Staff

House Bill 99, sponsored by Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township), would exempt a “person authorized to go armed within a school safety zone” from satisfactorily completing an approved basic peace officer training program. This would reverse the 2021 Ohio Supreme Court ruling on Gabbard v. Madison Local School District Board of Education that required personnel entering a school to go through peace officer training.

In October 2021, a substitute bill was introduced. The change represents marginal improvement to the original version of the bill. OEA is pleased that the measure requires the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) to create a training program for people to carry guns in schools. However, OEA remains concerned and opposed to the training hour requirements in the bill. The new bill version would prescribe state training requirements at a maximum of 20 hours of initial training and 4 additional hours to be completed annually. OEA believes this level of firearms training remains inadequate and will ultimately jeopardize the safety of students and staff. Additionally, the measure requires a board of education or governing body of a school to notify the public that they have authorized one or more persons to go armed within a school of the board or governing body. However, the bill does not expressly state how often the governing body should notify the public, nor does it clarify if school districts who have already authorized this policy are required to notify the public. OEA has requested that this provision be amended to require annual notification to the public, including notification from school districts who have already authorized personnel to carry guns in schools, and post these notifications on the district’s website.

The bill is currently pending in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Republicans Unveil Proposed Congressional Maps

Despite a statewide ballot issue that enshrined a Constitutional amendment aimed at ending gerrymandering, Republican leaders in the Ohio General Assembly have introduced new Congressional maps heavily tilted in their party’s favor. The House and Senate Republicans introduced separate plans this week that would each likely result in 13 of 15 Congressional districts being represented by Republicans. Ohio currently has some of the most heavily gerrymandered maps in the country and the new ones would shockingly be even worse.

In 2018, voters overwhelming passed Congressional redistricting reform that called for fair districts and an open, bipartisan process. Thus far, instead we have seen missed deadlines and no cooperation between the two parties. The partisan maps unveiled this week would break Ohio’s largest urban counties among multiple Congressional districts. This dilutes the voice of Ohio communities of color and results in up to 86% of the seats would favor Republicans in spite of that party winning approximately 55% of the statewide vote.

The General Assembly has until the end of November to pass a Congressional redistricting plan. If a plan is passed with a three-fifths majority (including at least one-third of each party) it will go into effect for 10 years. Without bipartisan support, only a simple majority is needed but the districts will only be in effect for four years. Further, those districts must not unduly favor or disfavor any political party.

OEA is part of a coalition advocating for fair maps called Equal Districts. The coalition is holding a Statehouse Lobby Day on Tuesday, November 16. Members who are able to attend are encouraged to do so. More information is available by clicking here.

HB 327 – Anti-Freedom in the Classroom Bill Undermines Honesty in Education

OEA opposes HB 327. Despite some recent changes to the bill, HB 327 continues to prohibit K-12 schools, state institutions of higher education, state agencies, and political subdivisions from teaching, instructing, promoting, or providing professional development in certain “divisive concepts” listed in the bill. OEA also opposes HB 322, a similar bill that is receiving less attention from the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee.

Violations of murky state censorship prohibitions in HB 327 would threaten students with loss of graduation credit, schools with cancellation of state funding, and educators with suspension/revocation of state licenses. HB 327 also threatens financial harm to educators and schools with exposure to uncapped civil liability damages in lawsuits brought by parents alleging violations of state censorship regulations.

Educators and students deserve the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment. Instead of more state regulations in the classroom, let’s trust educators, administrators, and school board members to do the jobs they were trained and elected to do on behalf of students.

To send an email to your state Representative, click HERE.

For a guide on how to prepare and submit HB 327 opponent testimony to the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee, click HERE.

For a summary of the current version of HB 327 click HERE.

SB 1 – Ohio House Passes Financial Literacy Graduation Requirement and Extends Substitute Teacher Hiring Flexibility

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed SB 1 (9.29.21), a bill that creates a half-unit financial literacy requirement for graduation. The bill also extends for the 2021-22 school year temporary flexibility for districts to hire substitutes that do not have a four-year degree. The next step for SB 1 will be a Senate vote to concur in House changes to the bill, most likely to occur next week. OEA has engaged with stakeholders as an Interested Party on SB 1.

SB 1 does the following:

  • Requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2022, to complete a half-unit of instruction in financial literacy as part of the required high school curriculum.
  • Overall graduation requirement of 20 units remains the same. Students can take the financial literacy course by using a half-unit of elective credit (out of 5 elective units) or in lieu of one-half unit of instruction in math. The math course cannot be Algebra II, or its equivalent, or a course for which the State Board requires an end-of-course examination (algebra I and geometry).
  • Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, an educator license validation in financial literacy will be required to provide financial literacy instruction for high school credit. Exempted from this validation requirement are those who have a license or endorsement required to provide instruction in social studies, family and consumer sciences, or business education. For individuals that obtain a financial literacy validation, a school district must cover up to $500 of the cost and the district is reimbursed by state funds.
  • Substitute Teacher Amendment: Extends through the 2021-22 school year temporary flexibility for districts to hire substitutes that do not have a four-year degree. The rationale for this extension are substitute shortages exacerbated by Covid-19. This provision contains an “emergency clause” and therefore would go into effect immediately if the Senate concurs in House changes and the Governor signs the bill.

HB 322 and HB 327 – “OEA leaders, members lead challenge to bills designed to kill academic freedom and honesty in the classroom”

OEA President Scott DiMauro and other OEA members presented opponent testimony this week on legislation that would prohibit teaching certain “divisive concepts.” Instead of censorship and fear, President DiMauro called for honesty in education and trusting educators to do their jobs.

Copies of President DiMauro’s opponent testimony can be viewed at the following links: HB 322 and HB 327

A video of President DiMauro’s opponent testimony on HB 322 and HB 327 can be viewed HERE.

You can take action by using the OEA Action Alert to send an email letter to your State Representative and for guidance on submitting written-only testimony to the committee.

Lawsuit Challenges General Assembly Maps as Unconstitutional

Several voting rights groups have filed a lawsuit arguing that General Assembly maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission are unconstitutional. Earlier this month, the Commission adopted maps on a party-line vote. The suit alleges the maps violate provisions in the Ohio Constitution adopted by voters in 2015 to reform redistricting and end partisan gerrymandering.

Specifically, the lawsuit focuses on Article XI Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution which states, “No general assembly district plan shall be drawn primarily to favor or disfavor a political party” and “the statewide proportion of district whose voters, based on statewide state and federal partisan general election results during the last 10 years, favor each political party shall correspond closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio.”

Over the past ten years, voters in Ohio have favored Republicans over Democrats by a margin of approximately 55% to 45%. However, the maps adopted by the Commission were drawn to give Republicans a two-thirds of the seats in both the House and the Senate—a veto-proof majority.

Over 71% of Ohio voters passed redistricting reform. Hundreds of Ohioans testified about the need for fair maps and fair representation. However, the Redistricting Commission process was marked by delays and a lack of transparency. The maps adopted by the Commission broke both the letter and the spirit of the law. The party-line vote results in maps that, if upheld, would be in effect for only four years.

The lawsuit challenging the maps was brought by the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and six Ohio voters. The lawsuit was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court which has sole jurisdiction over the General Assembly redistricting process.

SB 1 – Financial Literacy Graduation Requirement and Substitute Teacher Flexibility

The House Education Committee unanimously passed SB 1 this week. The bill creates a half-unit financial literacy requirement for graduation and also extends for the 2021-22 school year temporary flexibility for districts to hire substitutes that do not have a four-year degree. The next steps for SB 1 will be a floor vote in the Ohio House and then a concurrence vote in the Ohio Senate. OEA has engaged with stakeholders as an Interested Party on SB 1.

SB 1 does the following:

  • Requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2022, to complete a half-unit of instruction in financial literacy as part of the required high school curriculum. Overall graduation requirement of 20 units remains the same. Students can take the financial literacy course by using a half-unit of elective credit (out of 5 elective units) or as a substitute for a half-unit of Algebra II.
  • Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, each public school and chartered nonpublic school must require an individual to have an educator license validation in financial literacy to provide financial literacy instruction for high school credit. Exempted from this validation requirement are those who have a license or endorsement required to provide instruction in social studies, family and consumer sciences, or business education. For individuals that obtain a financial literacy validation, a school district must cover up to $500 of the cost and the district is reimbursed by state funds.
  • Extends through the 2021-22 school year temporary flexibility for districts to hire substitutes that do not have a four-year degree. The rationale for this extension are substitute shortages exacerbated by Covid-19.

Redistricting Commission Produces a more Gerrymandered Map than Current One, Defying the Will of the People

On Thursday, the Ohio Redistricting Commission introduced legislative maps created by staffers for the Senate and House Republicans. These maps were adopted by the Commission 5-2 on a party-line vote as a “starting point.” This plan is wholly inadequate and fails to meet the demands of the Constitutional amendment passed by voters to end partisan gerrymandering.

In 2015, Ohioans voted overwhelmingly to approve an amendment to the state Constitution on redistricting. The amendment created the bipartisan Redistricting Commission and established rules for drawing legislative districts. A bipartisan agreement is needed for the maps to go into effect for 10 years. Otherwise, a simple majority of members of the Commission can enact a four-year map.

There are two fatal flaws with the current proposal. First, the Constitution calls for the statewide proportion of districts favoring each political party correspond closely with the statewide preferences of the voters (i.e. representational fairness). In statewide elections over the last 10 years, Republicans have averaged approximately 55% of the vote while Democrats have averaged 45% of the vote. Therefore, the districts that favor each party should fall roughly on those lines. The proposed plan under consideration brazenly would have two-thirds of the House and Senate districts favoring Republicans—a veto-proof supermajority. Secondly, the Constitution requires that the plan comply with federal law. The Voting Rights Act requires that communities of color have real pathways to political representation. The staffers who produced the map testified that they were instructed by legislative leaders not to take race or ethnicity into account in drawing district lines. This will likely dilute the political voices of minority populations in Ohio – a violation of federal law.

Members of the Commission maintain that they still want a 10-year map and will work over the next few days for a compromise. The Constitutional deadline is September 15th. It is critical for state leaders to put politics aside and give the voters of Ohio what they voted for—fair maps. Time is running out.

What Can You Do? Take Action to tell the Commission We Demand Fair Maps:

  1. Click here to send an email demanding fair maps.
  2. Provide written testimony by sending it to testimony@redistricting.ohio.gov or attend a Commission hearing:
    Sunday at 4pm – Dayton
    Washington Township Recreation Center
    895 Miamisburg Centerville Rd
    Dayton, Ohio 45459

    Monday at 4pm – Cleveland

    Corporate College East
    4400 Richmond Rd
    Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

    Tuesday at 10am – Columbus
    Ohio Statehouse
    1 Capitol Square
    Ohio House Finance Hearing Room (Room 313)
    Columbus, OH 43215

If you have questions or need information about how to testify, contact Robert Davis in OEA Government Relations: davisr@ohea.org

Redistricting Commission Blows by First Deadline for District Maps

The Ohio Redistricting Commission, the body tasked with drawing new district lines for the state legislature, has missed its first deadline to produce maps. Under an amendment to the Ohio Constitution passed in 2015, the Commission had until September 1 to vote on an initial map and then hold public hearings on it. At this point, no map has been voted on nor have any further public hearings been scheduled. The Commission then has until September 15 to vote on a final map.

Redistricting reform passed with support of over 70% of Ohio voters to bring about fairer maps, rather than ones drawn specifically to favor one party over another through gerrymandering. Last month the Commission held 10 public hearings where citizens testified with a strong message of calling for an open and bipartisan process that lives up to the letter and spirit of the Constitutional amendment. Several OEA members provided testimony including OEA President Scott DiMauro and Vice President Jeff Wensing. Click here and here to read their testimony.

The Redistricting Commission is comprised of seven members: Governor Mike DeWine (R), Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), Auditor Keith Faber (R), Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R), House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D), Senate President Matt Huffman (R), and Senator Vernon Sykes (D). In order for a map to take effect for 10 years, it would take a majority vote of the Commission with both of the Democrats voting for it. A simple majority of members can pass a map, but it would only be in effect for four years.

Redistricting Commission Releases Schedule for Regional Hearings

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has released a schedule of ten regional hearings around the state from August 23-27. The hearings provide an opportunity for the public to provide input to the Commission tasked with redrawing district lines for the Ohio General Assembly.

Ohio voters twice passed redistricting reform measures. Fair districts are vitally important and Ohio citizens should be provided with ample opportunities for meaningful input in the process. For too long, partisan gerrymandering has subverted our democracy.

OEA urges our members to participate in these public hearings. We note that the bulk of the public hearings take place during the school day at the beginning of the new year making attendance difficult for many of our members. However, the Commission will accept written testimony from those unable to appear in person. The hearings are as follows:

Monday, August 23 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Cleveland
Monday, August 23 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Youngstown
Tuesday, August 24 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Dayton
Tuesday, August 24 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Cincinnati
Wednesday, August 25 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Zanesville
Wednesday, August 25 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Rio Grande
Thursday, August 26 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lima
Thursday, August 26 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Toledo
Friday, August 27 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Akron
Friday, August 27 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Mansfield

If you have an interest in testifying (either in person or submitting written testimony), contact Robert Davis in OEA Government Relations davisr@ohea.org for more information.

OEA Analysis of Recently Signed State Budget
OEA’s Government Relations staff has compiled an analysis of the education-related provisions included in House Bill 110, the budget for FY 2022 and FY 2023. Please click here to read the analysis.  You can also download the district-by-district funding spreadsheets, as well as those for Joint Vocational Districts.

Final Budget Bill Includes Fair School Funding Plan, Pathway Out of State Takeover
On Monday, June 28, 2021, the Ohio General Assembly finished its work on House Bill 110, the state budget for FY 2022 and FY 2023.  The final bill was produced by a Conference Committee that worked out the differences between the House and Senate. The final bill was passed by a vote of 32-1 in the Senate and 82-13 in the House.

Of great importance was the inclusion of the Fair School Funding Plan in the final bill. This was OEA’s top budget priority. The Fair School Funding plan was a product of years of work by policy makers and school finance experts that garnered bipartisan support. The plan is based upon the costs of providing a high-quality education. It will reduce the reliance on local property taxes. The bill directly funds charter school and voucher students, ending the pass-through funding model that deducts from local school districts. When fully implemented, it will provide a formula is student-centered, equitable, adequate, transparent, and ensures the funding needed to provide all kids the future they deserve.

Of concern is that the final budget applies the formula to only this two-year budget. Intent language to fully phase in the formula over six years and several studies to further refine aspects of the formula were removed. Clearly, our work is not over, and it will be important to continue to advocate for the resources to fully implement the Fair School Funding plan and make it historic promise a reality for Ohio’s students.

Another positive aspect of the bill was the inclusion of language that was in the Senate version establishing a pathway out of state takeover for Lorain, Youngstown, and East Cleveland. The failed state takeover law has been a harmful experiment for students, educators, and communities. The distractions and dysfunction caused by state takeovers increases the difficulty of developing comprehensive supports that help students overcome barriers to learning caused by poverty. All three districts and communities under an ADC/CEO deserve to regain local control.

On the priority issues of vouchers and charter schools the news was less welcome. The expanded eligibility for EdChoice vouchers, removal of the statewide cap and increased voucher amounts in the Senate version were retained. The Senate’s provision that allows brick and mortar charter schools to open anywhere in the state was also included. The final bill did not include language to allow charter schools to be operated by a sectarian school or religious institution. However, the bill did include tax credits of up to $1,000 on private school tuition.

The bill must be signed by Governor DeWine by June 30 and is subject to potential line-item vetoes. OEA will provide members additional information as this occurs. Fuller analysis of HB 110 will be provided over the coming weeks.

HB 82: Reworked Report Card System Contains Major Changes Called for by OEA
Eliminates A-F Letter Grades; Creates Student Opportunity Profile

The Ohio General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a reworked version of the state report card system for school districts/buildings that seeks to address numerous flaws with the current approach. The updated report card system was amended into House Bill 82, a bill supported by OEA that allows students to opt out of the statewide administration of the ACT and SAT tests in their junior year (with parental consent). House Bill 82 now heads to the Governor, who is expected to sign the bill.

The updated report card system in House Bill 82 contains major changes called for by the OEA. These include the elimination of misleading A-F letter grades beginning with the report card for the 2020-21 school year. The new rating system will be based on a five-star system (including half-stars) accompanied by trend arrows and brief explanatory descriptors. The bill also includes the creation of an ungraded Student Opportunity Profile with twenty-two indicators proposed by OEA beginning with report card for the 2022-23 school year.

A summary of the updated report card system can be found here.

 

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee accepted an omnibus amendment House Bill (HB) 110, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. The bill passed the Ohio Senate Finance Committee along party lines and passed the Ohio Senate with a vote of 25-8. Prior to passage, Senator Fedor offered an OEA supported amendment to restore the Fair School Funding Plan as passed by the Ohio House. The amendment was tabled.

The Senate version of the bill includes a provision establishing a process by which certain school districts subject to an academic distress commission (ADC) may be relieved from the oversight of its ADC. The provision applies to all districts currently with an ADC (Lorain, East Cleveland, and Youngstown) rather than just Lorain as under a previous version of the bill. OEA supports this provision.

Additionally, the Senate version of the bill appropriates $125 million in federal funds over the biennium to establish education savings accounts for after-school child enrichment. Eligible students are ages 6-18 from households with family income under 300% of poverty level. Students can attend public or private school or be homeschooled. Each eligible student would be granted $500 and provided on a first come-first served basis until funds run out. These funds can be used for expenses such as tutoring, classes, camps, field trips, etc.

As the budget heads to conference committee, OEA’s top priority remains enacting the Fair School Funding plan as passed by the Ohio House. Now is the time for Ohio’s policymakers to enact the funding for schools that our students need and deserve. It is also important that the bill include language to end academic distress commissions in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland. Additionally, we are calling for the elimination of the voucher and charter school expansion language in the Senate’s version of the budget. OEA will continue to keep members informed throughout the process and provide ways to make your voice heard on these critical issues.

More information regarding major provisions of the omnibus amendment can be found here.

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill 110, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. Disappointingly, the Senate version of the bill removes the House-passed Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP) and replaces it with a lower base per-pupil of $6,110. The Senate plan equates to a $90 per pupil increase from the per-pupil amount enacted two years ago and is considerably less than a fully phased in base per-pupil of the FSFP (statewide average is $7,200). The Senate school funding plan also fails to address any of adequacy or equity issues that have long made Ohio’s broken school funding system unconstitutional. OEA continues to advocate for the adoption of the Fair School Funding Plan that when fully phased-in would provide an additional $1.8 in funding for schools.

The Senate’s substitute version of the budget maintains the House’s action to directly fund voucher programs and charter schools. This is very positive as it will end the practice of “pass through funding” that deducts voucher amounts and charter school funding from the state funds that a district receives. This funding method has forced local taxpayers to subsidize voucher students and resulted in lower funding for public school students.

However, the Senate’s version would eliminate the current cap on EdChoice vouchers, increase the eligibility for EdChoice vouchers, and increase the maximum amount of each voucher to an amount that for high school vouchers would exceed the per pupil state aid public school students receive in 80 percent of Ohio School Districts. These changes would result in higher costs and even more taxpayer money going to private schools. OEA opposes these changes.

Other major policy highlights contained within the Senate substitute measure are outlined below:

  • Removes Student Wellness and Success Funds from the school funding formula and reinstates a standalone program. Appropriates $650 million over the biennium for this purpose.
  • Allows new start up charter schools to open anywhere in the state (not just “challenged districts,” i.e. the Big Eight urban districts and districts with certain “low performing” ratings on the state report card). Charters are direct funded by the state under FSFP.
  • Allows charter schools to be operated by a sectarian school or religious institution or to be sectarian in their programs, admissions policies, employment practices, and all other operations.
  • Includes Academic Distress Commission language from SB 165, which establishes a pathway for Lorain City Schools (does not apply to Youngstown or East Cleveland City Schools) to exit state control under the state takeover law.
  • Removes a variety of educator licensure disciplinary provisions that would have undermined due process for license holders.
    Provides a 5% income tax cut over the biennium resulting in a loss of $874 million in income tax revenue. Losing this revenue will hamstring Ohio’s ability to adequately fund our schools and other important programs.
  • Eliminates the provision from the Executive budget that would have required students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to graduate.
  • Permits parents to opt-out of the administration of the ACT/SAT starting with the class of 2026.
  • Permits students to use relevant final course grades of B or higher to qualify for citizenship or science diploma seals.

New district funding spreadsheets (School district and JVSD) produced by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission (LSC) detailing the Senate funding plan are available. Additionally, you may see how the current school funding system affects your district and how much better districts would fare under the Fair School Funding Plan at https://www.allinforohiokids.com/

HB 110 is expected to have additional amendments and a vote next week in the Ohio Senate.

OEA Testifies in Support of Testing Reduction Legislation

This week, OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing and several other OEA members testified in support of House Bill 73. The bill is designed to help reduce the amount of standardized testing for Ohio’s students to allow more time for teaching and learning in the classroom.

Wensing highlighted OEA’s enthusiastic support for HB 73 including provisions that would reduce the number of state-required tests, establish district workgroups to review the amount of district-required testing, and eliminate the retention provisions of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. You can read the testimony here.

OEA members Dan Heintz (Chardon EA) and Rob Schofield (Avon Lake EA) also testified as proponents of the bill. Written testimony was also provided by Erin Stevens (Pickerington EA), Kara Jankowski (West Carrollton EA), and Matthew Jablonski (Elyria EA). If you would like information on providing testimony in support of HB 73, contact OEA lobbyist Robert Davis at davisr@ohea.org

SB 145 – OEA Provides Senate Education Committee Feedback on Report Card Bill

Bills under consideration in the House (HB 200) and Senate (SB 145) seek to address numerous flaws with the current state report card system for school districts and buildings.

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing provided “Interested Party” testimony on SB 145 in Senate Education Committee on May 11, 2021. Mr. Wensing stated the report card proposals in SB 145 and HB 200 demonstrate broad consensus it is time to make significant and meaningful changes in the interest of students, families, and communities. A copy of the OEA SB 145 testimony can be viewed here.

Major OEA priorities include eliminating misleading letter grades, ending the use of overall grades (which are inherently over-simplified), and adding a Student Opportunity Profile that allows schools to provide report-only data for equity and access indicators that can be plainly understood by all users of the report card, including parents, the public and policymakers.

Mr. Wensing recognized positive elements of SB 145, but stated HB 200 most aligns to the Report Card Proposal adopted by OEA RA delegates in 2019 and therefore has the support of OEA.

SB 1 – Ohio Senate Unanimously Passes Half-credit Financial Literacy Requirement

SB 1 would create a half-credit financial literacy requirement for high school students. The Ohio Senate unanimously passed SB 1 on May 12, 2021. OEA is monitoring SB 1.

SB 1 would do the following:

  • Requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2021, to complete at least one-half unit of instruction in financial literacy as part of the required high school curriculum.
  • Allows flexibility to provide the equivalent of a half-credit of instruction in financial literacy through currently offered courses or as a standalone course.
  • Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public school and chartered nonpublic school must require an individual to have an educator license validation in financial literacy to provide instruction in financial literacy in high school.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to consult with an advisory committee of at least five classroom teachers prior to adopting any rules regarding the license validation. The teacher advisory committee must include a representative of each of the following: (1) the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics, (2) the Ohio Council for the Social Studies, (3) the Ohio Business Educators Association, and (4) the Ohio Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences.
  • Requires each district or school to cover any costs necessary for a teacher employed by a district or school to meet the additional requirements for the license validation. The bill establishes the High School Financial Literacy Fund to reimburse districts and schools for covering the costs of teachers obtaining a license validation. Allocates an initial $1.5 million to ODE for the reimbursement fund.

Testing Reduction Legislation to Receive Proponent Testimony
House Bill 73 is jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus). The bill is aimed at reducing the testing load on Ohio’s students. The bill is similar to HB 239 from the last General Assembly, the Testing Reduction Act, which passed the House 78-14 but was not taken up by the Senate. OEA strongly supports the bill.

The major provisions of HB 73 include:

  • Eliminates the Fall administration of the third grade ELA test and student retention provisions of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Beginning with the class of 2024, reduces the number of end-of-course exams to four by combining the American History and American Government exams.
  • Requires each school district to establish a workgroup made up of teachers, parents, and administrators to examine the amount of time students spend on district-required testing and make recommendations on how to reduce testing.
  • Permits districts to exceed statutory testing limitations through passage of an annual resolution after considering recommendations from the testing work group.
  • Eliminates taking the ACT/SAT as a graduation requirement and makes student participation voluntary.
  • Requires ODE to issue an annual report on the amount of time students spend on state and district required testing.

The bill is likely to receive proponent testimony next week before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. If you are interested in supporting the bill by providing written testimony, contact Robert Davis in OEA Government Relations (davisr@ohea.org) for more information.

Ohio House Passes State Budget Bill
On Tuesday, April 20, the Ohio House Finance Committee made further changes to the state budget bill, via the omnibus amendment, before sending the measure (Substitute HB 110) to the full House.

After House floor deliberations on Wednesday, April 21, the Ohio House passed the bill by a vote of ­­­70-27.  New district funding spreadsheets produced by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission (LSC) detailing the House-passed version are available here.  It is important to note, that we are halfway through the state budget process and that the spreadsheets could change. In addition, because the legislature is phasing in the plan, there are going to be occasionally odd results showing some districts doing better than others. That is the nature of phasing in a new school funding plan, which is why we are pushing for a quicker implementation of the plan so these incongruities are minimized.

Details of the major policy changes contained within the omnibus amendment are outlined below.

K-12

  • Requires, for purposes of calculating the formula transition supplement for city, local, exempted village, and joint vocational school districts paid under the substitute bill, that a district’s foundation aid is calculated before any state budget reductions ordered by the Governor.
  • Extends a provision of the introduced bill requiring that the tangible personal property supplement payment amount to be paid to school districts that have a nuclear power plant located in their territory should be no less than the amount that was paid to them in fiscal year 2017. This change extends the supplement through 2026.
  • Allows for parental opt out for students taking the ACT/SAT for those who enter 9th grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2022.
  • Authorizes the State Teachers Retirement Board to adopt a policy that allows Board members to attend Board meetings by means of teleconference or video conference. Requires, that at least one-third of the Board members must be present in person where the meeting is being held.
  • Prohibits automatic closure of community schools on the basis of any report card rating issued prior to the 2022-2023 school year.
  • For the 2021-2022 school year only, waives the requirement that a community school automatically withdraw any student who without legitimate excuse fails to participate in seventy-two consecutive hours of learning opportunities.
  • Requires the Department of Education to submit to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) any proposed changes to the Education Management Information System (EMIS) or the Department’s business rules and policies that may affect community schools.
  • Requires JCARR to hold public hearings regarding the proposed rule changes, consider testimony provided at those hearings, and vote to determine whether community schools can reasonably comply with the proposed changes.
  • Prohibits the Department from implementing any changes to EMIS or the Department’s business rules and policies that may affect community schools without JCARR’s determination that those schools can reasonably comply with the proposed changes.
  • Changes the deadline for the Department of Education’s report on the pilot program for dropout recovery e-schools to December 31, 2022 (from December 31, 2023, as under the substitute bill). This pilot program was created under H.B. 123 of the 133rd General Assembly, and that bill required the report to be submitted by December 31, 2021.

Higher Education
Restores the use of a single line item to make State Share of Instruction (SSI) formula payments for universities and regional campuses and community and technical colleges.

DRC Reentry Employment Grants
Earmarks $275,000 in each fiscal year from GRF appropriation item 503321, Parole and Community Operations, to create and implement a program to award grants to at least one nonprofit organization that operates reentry employment programs that meet certain criteria. Requires the Department to establish guidelines, procedures, grant application forms, and outcome-based criteria upon which performance is evaluated. (Sec. 383.10)

OEA President DiMauro Testifies on Budget Bill in Ohio Senate
On Thursday, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified before Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee to present OEA’s views on school funding, academic distress commissions, graduation requirements, and other proposed policy changes contained within the budget bill. You can read his testimony here.

Ohio House Finance Committee Accepts Substitute Budget Bill 
On Tuesday, April 13, the Ohio House Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill (HB) 110, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022 and 2023.

Notably, the substitute measure includes the Fair School Funding Plan formula (House Bill 1) with some adjustments outlined below.  The Plan will continue to be phased-in over a six-year period – with $4.5 billion in American Recovery Act funds put on top of the additional state aid included during the phase in period, which helps to ease the transition to the new formula. The bill also eliminates separate funding for the Success and Wellness program, currently funded outside of the funding formula, merging those funds into the Fair School Funding Plan. With this change, the substitute bill ensures that all districts in this budget cycle will receive from the state an amount equal to at least the sum of their total FY 2019 formula aid plus total FY 2021 Success and Wellness Funds.

The substitute bill removes the requirement that each student, as a condition of graduation, provide evidence of having completed and submitted a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).  OEA supports this change. Additionally, the measure retains the Executive Budget proposal, supported by OEA, that prohibits the Superintendent of Public Instruction from establishing new academic distress commissions (ADCs) for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.

OEA Government Relations staff is currently reviewing the language in the substitute bill and will provide additional details as they become available.  District runs are not currently available.  HB 110 is expected to have additional amendments and a vote next week in the Ohio House.

You may view a summary of the major changes included in the substitute budget bill here.

OEA Submits Testimony in Opposition to Bill to Alter Training Requirements for Armed School Staff
On Thursday, April 15, 2021, the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing for opposition testimony on House Bill 99.  OEA President Scott DiMauro submitted testimony in opposition, as well as over 130 other opponent witnesses, but only four witnesses were given the opportunity to testify in person.  OEA President DiMauro was not one of the four.  The Chair stated that time constraints of the committee hearing necessitated limiting the number of witnesses, and that there would be future opportunities for individuals to testify on the bill.

The bill would exempt a “person authorized to go armed within a school safety zone” from satisfactorily completing an approved basic peace officer training program. This would reverse the 2020 12th District Court of Appeals ruling on Gabbard v. Madison Local School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2020-Ohio-1180, that is now pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Further, House Bill 99 would prescribe no state training requirements for armed school personnel outside of Ohio’s concealed carry training, assuming that school staff are carrying concealed. This training is 8 hours, 6 of which can be completed online.

OEA opposes the legislation. The safety of Ohio’s students and school staff necessitates increased training requirements for armed personnel not fewer.  You can read his full testimony here.

HB 200 – OEA Provides Committee Testimony Regarding Report Card Reform Bill

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing provided testimony to the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee this week regarding HB 200. The bill is designed to address numerous flaws with the current state report card system for school districts/buildings. OEA testimony highlighted priorities such as eliminating misleading A-F letter grades and adding a “Student Opportunity Profile” with indicators that help districts/buildings demonstrate their offerings and support for students beyond test-based measures. HB 200 is bi-partisan legislation joint sponsored by Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). The OEA HB 200 testimony is available here.

SB 165 – Establishes Process to Release Lorain City Schools from ADC

Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) has introduced legislation (SB 165) that would establish a process for Lorain City Schools to be released from state control under the HB 70 Academic Distress Commission/CEO system. Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee Chair Andrew Brenner is co-sponsoring the bill. OEA is seeking an amendment that would also apply the bill to Youngstown and East Cleveland City Schools.

House Bill 67 Advances to the Governor

The Ohio Senate amended and passed House Bill 67 this week. The bill, which deals with high school graduation and testing flexibility, was passed by a vote of 32-1 on the Senate floor. The Ohio House concurred with the amendments made by the Senate by a vote of 96-0. Importantly, the final bill does include an emergency clause and will go into effect immediately upon being signed into law by the Governor.

Key changes made by the Senate include adding an additional graduation pathway for this year’s seniors; limiting the ability to use course grades in lieu of test scores for the purposes of high school graduation to this year’s 11th and 12th graders; and reinserting the emergency clause. OEA supports HB 67 as it will offer increased flexibility for high school students who have had their learning experience disrupted to progress towards graduation. However, OEA is disappointed that the flexibility was limited to 11th and 12th grade students. A summary of key provisions of the bill is below:

  • Permit juniors and seniors to use course grades in lieu of test scores on end-of-course exams from the 2020-21 school year to satisfy conditions for a high school diploma
  • Permit schools to grant a diploma this year to a senior student who is on track to graduate and for whom the principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, determines the student has successfully completed high school curriculum or individualized education program
  • Creates another graduation pathway for the 2020-21 school year only. Student must complete all required courses and earn the OhioMeansJobs-readiness seal
  • Exempt schools from administering the state required American history end-of-course exam
  • Extend testing windows later in the school year and requires deadline extensions related to assessments
  • Require ODE to seek a waiver from federal accountability and school identification requirements
  • Extend back the deadline for school district/building report cards to October 14

HB 200: Report Card Overhaul Receives First Hearing Sponsor Testimony

Reps. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Phil Robinson (D-Solon) provided HB 200 sponsor testimony in House Education Committee on March 16, 2021. This was the first committee hearing on HB 200.

HB 200 makes strong progress with regard to replacing misleading A-F letter grades with a series of measures (Achievement/Progress/Equity/Early Literacy) that use expectations/needs-based ratings as follows: “significantly exceeds expectations,” “exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” “significantly approaching expectations,” “moderately approaching expectations” and “in need of support.” Overall performance ratings of school districts and buildings are prohibited under the bill.

OEA is taking an “Interested Party” position on HB 200 and will be engaging with legislators and other stakeholders to support areas of progress while recommending additional improvements

OEA Testifies in Support of HB 67

On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified in support of Substitute House Bill 67. The bill would allow high school students to use course grades instead of scores on end-of-course exams given this year for the purposes of high school graduation. Further, the bill would allow local education officials to make graduation decisions for seniors who are on track to graduate this year and provide additional testing flexibility.

The bill passed the House last week by a wide margin but without an emergency clause that is needed for it to have its intended effect. DiMauro asked the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee to pass the bill quickly and re-insert the emergency clause. You can read his full testimony here. The bill is expected to have an additional hearing and possible vote next week.

HB 200: Bi-Partisan Report Card Bill Would Eliminate A-F Letter Grades

Reps. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Phil Robinson (D-Solon) have introduced legislation to improve Ohio’s state report card system. HB 200 bill has 58 co-sponsors and is expected to receive serious consideration in the Ohio House of Representatives.

HB 200 would replace misleading A-F letter grades with a series of measures that use expectations/needs-based ratings as follows: “significantly exceeds expectations,” “exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” “significantly approaching expectations,” “moderately approaching expectations” and “in need of support.” Overall performance ratings of school districts and buildings are prohibited under the bill.

While the proposal keeps the flawed value-added student growth measure, it seeks to make improvements in how the measure is used. The State Board of Education would also be permitted to replace value-added with a different growth measure. Other areas for improvement in the bill include adding a Student Opportunity Profile that allows districts to report information about education programs, extracurricular activities, student supports, staffing ratios and other pertinent information about the district/building.

OEA is taking an “Interested Party” position on HB 200 and will be engaging with legislators and other stakeholders to support areas of progress while recommending specific improvements.

Revamped Testing Bill Heads to Senate

On Thursday, March 4, 2021, a substitute version of House Bill 67 was voted out of the House and will head to the Senate. The bill addresses state testing for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. The bill passed 93-1. However, the bill’s emergency clause did not have sufficient votes with most House Democrats voting against the measure. Without an emergency clause the bill will not take effect for 90 days, after the end of the school year.

The new version of the bill emerged in committee this week after the announcement that the U.S. Department of Education would not grant waivers of federal testing requirements. The new version of HB 67 would do the following: 

  • For the 2020-21 school year, permits students to use course grade in lieu of scores on end-of-course exams to satisfy conditions for a high school diploma
  • Permits schools to grant a diploma in the 2021 school year to a student on track to graduate and for whom the principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, determines the student has successfully completed high school curriculum or individualized education program
  • Exempts schools from administering the state required American history end-of-course exam
  • Extends testing windows later in the school year and requires deadline extensions related to assessments
  • Requires ODE to seek a waiver from federal accountability and school identification requirements
  • Pushes back the deadline for school district/building report cards to October 14

OEA supports HB 67. The lack of a federal waiver of testing requirements was hugely disappointing. However, HB 67 attempts to make the best of a bad situation. The bill offers some additional flexibility and, importantly makes sure that test results on this year’s end-of-course exams are not a barrier to graduation. Even those who support testing have stated that this year’s tests shouldn’t be tied to punitive measures or high-stakes decisions. For our high school students, their pathway to graduation has incredibly high stakes. HB 67 will need to pass as an emergency measure in order to have an impact. HB 67 is scheduled for its first hearing in the Senate on Tuesday and OEA will testify in support of the bill.

OEA Testifies on State Budget Bill

This week, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified on HB 110, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023.  In the testimony, DiMauro highlighted the following: 

  • Support for the Fair School Funding Plan;
  • Opposition to the removal of professional development regarding trauma informed care and cultural competence from the list of allowable expenses for Student Wellness and Success Funds;
  • Opposition to the requirement that each student, as a condition of graduation, to provide evidence of having completed and submitted a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA);
  • Support for extending the moratorium on new state takeovers through the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years;
  • Opposition to new computer science provisions contained in the bill; and
  • Advocating for changes to various licensure provisions within the bill.

You may read the entire testimony here.  Additionally, you may view an analysis of the Executive Budget proposals here.

HB 151: Eliminates Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA)

Recently introduced HB 151 would eliminate the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA). In separate legislation passed at the end of last year, the Ohio Teacher Residency Program and Resident Educator license was reduced to two years from four years (Effective April 12, 2023; HB 442-133rd G.A.*).

In addition to eliminating RESA, HB 151 would require Local Professional Development Committees (LPDCs) to establish a 2-year mentorship program that “reflects on instructional practices, an introduction to the teaching profession and the school district or school, as well as any other topic determined appropriate by the committee.” Each new teacher would be assigned a mentor teacher that has at least 5 years of experience and has renewed their professional license at least once. Finally, the bill requires each school district to give one day of professional development to new teachers in each of those two years to observe a veteran teacher in action in the classroom.

HB 151 is sponsored by Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and co-sponsored by Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst), Jeffrey LaRe (R-Canal Winchester), Jon Cross (R-Kenton), D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), and Adam Bird (R-Cincinnati).

* HB 442 (133rd G.A.) reduces the duration of both the resident educator license and the Ohio Teacher Residency program to two years from four years effective April 12, 2023. The State Board of Education must determine a method to condense the four-year Teacher Residency program into a two-year program, including a timeframe by which individuals already enrolled shall complete the program.  

HB 6: School Nurse License Changes for Make Up Hours Educator Preparation Program

School nurses and ODE pupil services licenses: Provides that a licensed registered nurse is not required to obtain a pupil services license from the Ohio Department of Education to work in schools if the nurse also holds a bachelor’s degree (but the bachelor’s degree is not required to be in nursing).

Educator preparation program make up hours and weeks: Requires each educator preparation program to develop and implement a plan to provide its students with alternative experiences, assignments, or instruction in the 2021-2022 academic year to make up any hours or weeks of clinical experiences missed due to school closure or limited hours because of COVID-19.

OEA Testifies in Support of Bill to Fix School Funding

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, OEA President Scott DiMauro offered proponent testimony before the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education for House Bill 1. House Bill 1 contains the Fair School Funding Plan. The Fair School Funding Plan passed the Ohio House by a vote of 87-9 at the end of 2020, but the Senate did not consider the bill before the legislative session ended.

The Fair School Funding Plan seeks to base decision making on identifiable student needs and the actual cost of providing a high-quality education. The funding plan would provide an additional $1.99 billion more in state aid annually when fully phased in and provides about 70% of the increased funds to the poorest urban, small town, and rural districts in the state. The plan would also end the use of gain caps and would reduce the number of districts from the state’s funding guarantee to fewer than 10 of Ohio’s 609 districts. Additionally, the bill direct funds charters and vouchers, rather than the current pass-through funding system.

Click here to read OEA President Scott DiMauro’s testimony.

HB 67 Stalls Amid Federal Testing Announcement

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they would not be granting waivers allowing states to forego annual testing this year. While the announcement included flexibility about when and how the tests are administered and how the data may be used; testing will go forward. This is hugely disappointing news as Ohio educators have been vocal about the need to focus on classroom instruction and meeting student needs rather than spending time on standardized tests.

This announcement came a day before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee was poised to pass House Bill 67. HB 67, sponsored by Representatives Adam Bird (R- Cincinnati) and Kyle Koehler (R- Springfield), calls for waiving state required tests and requiring the Ohio Department of Education to seek a waiver of federally mandated tests for this school year. The bill also allows high schoolers to use their course grades in lieu of test scores for the purpose of high school graduation.

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified in support of HB 67. Click here to read his testimony. Additionally, over 6,300 OEA members took action in support of HB 67. There was broad support in the House to pass the bill, however, the Ohio Senate and Governor DeWine were likely roadblocks to keep the bill from being signed into law.

OEA remains supportive of the provisions of HB 67 related to waiving state testing above the federal minimum requirements (high school end of course exams in American History and American Government) and allowing class grades to be used for high school graduation. These provisions may move forward in an amended version of HB 67 or in separate legislation. We will keep members updated as the situation develops.

Bills Introduced to Waive Spring Testing for This School Year

One of OEA’s legislative priorities for this General Assembly is secure legislation to forego state and federally mandated testing for this school year. The administration of standardized tests is logistically challenging and anxiety-inducing under the best of circumstances. Of course, this year has been anything but the best of circumstances for our members and Ohio’s students. Testing this year would not provide reliable data and would only serve to take away meaningful time from classroom instruction and meeting the needs of students.

Two bills have been introduced that would waive state-required end-of-course exams and require the Ohio Department of Education to seek a waiver of federally required testing. Note that achievement tests administered in grades K-8, as well as one high school test in math, English language arts, and science, are federally required. The US Department of Education has yet to announce a testing waiver, but this may be forthcoming.

House Bill 67, sponsored by Representatives Adam Bird (R- Cincinnati) and Kyle Koehler (R- Springfield), and House Bill 40, sponsored by Representatives Lisa Sobecki (D- Toledo) and Jeffrey Crossman (D- Parma), both received sponsor testimony in the House Education Committee on Tuesday. All the sponsors noted the importance of focusing on teaching and learning rather than testing what remains of the 2020-21 school year. Rep. Koehler noted the urgency of passing having the bill signed into law with an emergency clause by early March in order to have a practical impact. However, Senate President Matt Huffman (R- Lima) has indicated he favors keeping testing in place this school year.

OEA strongly supports legislation to waive testing this year. Click here to take action and urge your legislators to support HB 67. If you are interested in providing written testimony in support of the bill contact OEA Lobbyist Robert Davis at davisr@ohea.org

SB 1 – Requires Half-Unit Financial Literacy Course for High School Students

SB 1 requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2021, to complete a half-unit course in financial literacy. The bill received first hearing sponsor testimony in the Ohio Senate Education Committee on February 2, 2021. Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, any licensed teacher who receives a validation in financial literacy is eligible to teach the stand-alone half credit in financial literacy. The State Board of Education must consult with an advisory committee of at least five classroom teachers prior to adopting any rules regarding the license validation.

To view an SB 1 bill summary, click here.

 HB 54: Repeals Academic Distress Commissions (State Takeovers)

Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) provided HB 54 sponsor testimony to the Ohio House Education Committee on February 9, 2020. HB 54 would repeal the failed state takeover law and return local control to school districts in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland. HB 54 is the same bill that passed the Ohio House of Representatives 83-12 in 2019 (under bill number HB 154). In addition to HB 54, a second bill HB 100 (R-G.Manning/D-K.Smith) has been introduced that would also dissolve academic distress commissions and repeal the state takeover law. OEA supports both bills.

On Monday, February 1, 2021, Governor DeWine released his second Executive Budget Blue Book detailing his plans for the state budget for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022 and 2023. The administration’s main focus is utilizing $1 billion in one-time funds for the “Investing in Ohio Initiative” that would provide $250 million to enhance broadband access and support small businesses and other businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, of note, the governor does not tap into the $2.7 billion Rainy Day Fund.

Below is a review of the governor’s proposal. Please note that there are few details at this point as the actual budget language has yet to be released. OEA is also waiting for the release of district-by-district spreadsheets. OEA Government Relations staff will share additional information as it becomes available.

K-12 Education
School Funding

DeWine’s budget proposal continues to fund the Student Wellness and Success Funds which he created in his last budget. This proposal provides an additional $100 million in each fiscal year for a total of $1.1 billion over the biennium for districts to support students by providing mental health counseling, wraparound services, mentoring, and other supports to address student needs. These funds will continue to be provided to school districts outside of the school funding formula. The funding formula is frozen at current levels.

What is noticeably absent from his budget proposal is a plan to address the state’s unconstitutional school funding formula. OEA will continue to encourage state lawmakers to include the Fair School Funding Plan which received overwhelming bi-partisan support in the House at the end of the last session and represents years of work and compromise to finally deliver an equitable and constitutional funding system.

Additional Provisions

  • The proposal eliminates the $20 million school bus purchase program that was established in FY 2021. 
  • The budget provides $20.5 million in each fiscal year (a 412% increase from FY 21) to support over 70,000 high school students to earn industry-recognized credentials and support the Innovative Workforce Incentive Program.
  • The proposal increases the income-based EdChoice voucher fund by 8.4% ($7.1 million) for an appropriation of $92 million per year. 
  • The budget transfers the Quality Community Support funding from the Lottery Profits Fund to the General Revenue Fund and appropriates $54 million in each fiscal year (an 80% increase over FY 21 levels). This fund was created in the last budget to provide additional per-pupil funding for the highest performing charter schools.

Higher Education (HE)

State Share of Instruction FY 2022 – $2.056 billion – 1.0% increase
FY 2023 – $2.075 billion – 0.95% increase
Ohio College Opportunity Grant FY 2022 – $102.7 million – 0.9% increase
FY 2023 – $108.5 million – 5.6% increase
Central State Supplement FY 2022 – $11.1million – 1.2% decrease
FY 2023 – $11.2 million – flat funded at FY 2021 level
Shawnee State Supplement FY 2022 – $4.6 million – 14.8% increase
FY 2023 – $5.4 million – 16.7% increase
GRF Total HE (State Funding) FY 2022 – $2.738 billion – 6.0% increase
FY 2023 – $2.743 billion – 0.2% increase
All Funds HE FY 2022 – $2.799 billion – 5.1% decrease
FY 2023 – $2.788 billion – 0.4% decrease

Developmental Disabilities (DD)

Medicaid Services FY 2022 – $637.0 million – 11.5% increase
FY 2023 – $707.0 million – 11.0% increase

*According to the Blue Book the increased appropriations in this line item for FYs 2022 and 2023 is primarily attributable to the receipt of an enhanced federal medical assistance percentage (eFMAP) associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency. This additional federal reimbursement artificially reduced GRF Medicaid Services spending as additional costs were shifted to federal funding sources. The elimination of this additional revenue skews year-over-growth as expenditures shift back to the GRF.

Employment First Initiative FY 2022 – $2.7 million – 17.4% increase
FY 2023 – $2.7 million – flat funded at FY 2022 level
GRF Total DD (State Funding) FY 2022 – $702.8 million – 12.5% increase
FY 2023 – $773.4 million – 10.1% increase
All Funds DD FY 2022 – $3. billion – 5.2% increase
FY 2023 – $3.69 billion – 3.9% increase

SCOPE

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC)

Institution Education Services FY 2022 – $34.9 million – 2.9% increase
FY 2023 – $35.7 million – 2.2% increase
Education Services FY 2022 – $4.6 million – 0% increase
FY 2023 – $4.6 million – 0% increase
Prisoner Programs FY 2022 – $400k – 0% increase
FY 2023 – $400k – 0% increase
GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2022 – $1.95 billion – 3.8% increase
FY 2023 – $2.02 billion – 3.8% increase
All Funds DRC FY 2022 – $2.04 billion – 0.4% increase
FY 2023 – $2.1 billion – 2.7% increase

Department of Youth Services (DYS)

RECLAIM Ohio FY 2022 – $166 million – 4.4% increase
FY 2023 – $168 million – 1.4% increase
Education Services FY 2022 – $2.9 million – 10% decrease
FY 2023 – $2.5 million – 14% decrease
Education FY 2022 – $974k – 5.3% increase 
FY 2023 – $987k – 1.3% increase
Vocational Services FY 2022 – $1.5 million – 5.2% increase
FY 2023 – $1.4 million – 7.9% decrease
GRF Total DYS (State Funding) FY 2022 – $222.9 million – 4.0% increase
FY 2023 – $228.4 million – 2.5% increase
All Funds DYS FY 2022 – $237.3 million – 3.3% increase
FY 2023 – $242.2 million – 2.1% increase

State School for the Blind

GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2022 – $12.6 million – 4.0% increase
FY 2023 – $12.8 million – 1.6% increase
All Funds FY 2022 – $14.3 million – 0.4% increase
FY 2023 – $14.5 million – 1.4% increase

Ohio School for the Deaf

GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2022 – $13.9 million – 6.5% increase
FY 2023 – $14.2 million – 1.6% increase
All Funds FY 2022 – $14.9 million – 3.1% increase
FY 2023 – $15.1 million – 1.5% increase

State Library

GRF Total (State Funding) FY 2022 – $5.1 million – 5.1% increase
FY 2023 – $5.1 million – 0% increase
All Funds  FY 2022 – $21.7 million – 3.4% decrease
FY 2023 – $21.7 million – 0% increase

Ohio House Reintroduces Fair School Funding Plan

The Ohio House of Representative reintroduced the Fair School Funding Plan as House Bill 1.  The Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP), which was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Ohio House during the last legislative session, would enact a student-centered school funding formula that is equitable, adequate, predictable, and that ensures that all students have the resources to succeed regardless of where they live or their family’s income. The FSFP would provide an additional $1.99 billion in state aid when fully phased in and provides about 70% of the increased funds to the poorest urban, small town, and rural districts in the state. Importantly, it would finally fix the state’s broken funding system, which was ruled unconstitutional decades ago by the Ohio Supreme Court in 1997’s landmark DeRolph v. State of Ohio ruling.

Following testimony from the non-partisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) estimating nearly a billion dollars more in tax revenue over the next biennium than Governor Mike DeWine’s executive spending plan budgeted for, OEA is calling on the General Assembly to take up and approve the Fair School Funding Plan immediately.

SB 1: Requires Half Unit of Financial Literacy for High School Graduation

SB 1 received first hearing proponent testimony this week in the Ohio Senate Education Committee.

SB 1 requires students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2021, to complete at least one-half unit of instruction in financial literacy as part of the required high school curriculum (this is in addition to current law that requires the social studies curriculum to include financial literacy). High school graduation requires 20 credits. In order to help make space for a half unit of financial literacy requirement, the bill adjusts high school elective credits from 5 to 4.5.

Further, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, a license validation in financial literacy is required to provide the half unit of instruction in financial literacy (this requirement does not apply to social studies teachers who teach financial literacy as part of the ongoing social studies curriculum). The State Board of Education must consult with an advisory committee of at least five classroom teachers prior to adopting any rules regarding the license validation for teaching a half credit course in financial literacy.

Each district or school is required to cover any costs necessary for an individual employed by a district or school to meet the additional requirements for the license validation, and permits a district or school to seek reimbursement of the license validation costs from the Ohio Department of Education.

HB 54: ADC Repeal Legislation from 133rd G.A. (HB 154) Reintroduced

Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) are the bi-partisan joint sponsors of HB 54, legislation that would repeal the failed state takeover law and return local control to school districts in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland. HB 54 is the same legislation that passed the Ohio House of Representatives 83-12 in the last Ohio General Assembly (under bill number HB 154). The bi-partisan co-sponsors of HB 54 include House Majority Whip Don Jones (R-Freeport). OEA strongly supports HB 54.

2019-2020 | 133rd Ohio General Assembly

HB 409 – Ohio Senate Passes More Covid-19 School Flexibility Measures

The Ohio Senate passed more Covid-19 school flexibility measures supported by OEA this week (12.17.20). The Ohio House still needs to concur with Senate changes to House Bill 409.

HB 409 would do the following:

  • Suspends report card letter grades for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Establishes a safe harbor from penalties and sanctions for school districts and schools based on the state report card data for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Exempts for the 2020-2021 school year schools from retaining a student under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee based solely on the student’s academic performance in reading, unless the student’s principal and reading teacher determine the student is not reading at grade level and is not prepared for fourth grade.

For a summary and status of recent legislation with Covid-19 flexibility provisions, click here.

HB 442 – Reduces Resident Educator License to 2 years and Eliminates Certain Licenses

Before passing HB 442 this week (12.17.20), the Ohio Senate Transportation, Commerce, and Workforce Committee added language that would do the following:

  • Eliminates the requirement that individuals hold a substitute license from the state board of education.
  • No longer require a separate pupil services license from the state board of education for certain individuals already licensed by another professional board (i.e. school speech language pathologists, audiologists, school nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers).
  • Requires the State Board of Education to determine a method to condense the four-year Teacher Residency program into a two-year program, including a timeframe by which individuals already enrolled in the program will complete the program.

For a summary of HB 442, click here.

Ohio House Passes Bill to Address School Funding Crisis OEA Urges Ohio Senate to Act

Yesterday, the Ohio House passed Substitute House Bill 305, better known as the Fair School Funding Plan, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-9 – more than 90% of the House approved it. OEA has long advocated for state lawmakers to address the shortcomings of Ohio’s school funding system. The Fair School Funding Plan seeks to base decision making on identifiable student needs and the actual cost of providing a high-quality education.

The funding plan would provide an additional $1.99 billion more in state aid when fully phased in and provides about 70% of the increased funds to the poorest urban, small town, and rural districts in the state, which could lead to a greatly reduced need for levies to fund schools. The plan would also end the use of gain caps and would reduce the number of districts from the state’s funding guarantee to fewer than 10 of Ohio’s 613 districts. Additionally, the bill direct funds charters and vouchers, rather than the current pass-through funding system.

You may view OEA President Scott DiMauro’s testimony to the Ohio House Finance Committee here and OEA’s press release here.

Please contact your Ohio Senator here to urge their support of HB 305, a funding formula that will ensure that Ohio’s students are given the state resources needed to succeed regardless of where they live.

Senate Concurs with House Changes to OEA Opposed Senate Bill 40

Senate Bill 40, regarding free speech on college campuses, has been sent to Governor DeWine for his consideration. OEA is opposed to the bill and believes that the legislation is unnecessary. Ohio’s public colleges and universities recognize the 1st Amendment, the exercise of Freedom of Expression and Speech, as a central tenant of higher education. From the 1970s and onward, our colleges and universities have adopted policies and procedures to protect this critical right.

Additionally, OEA is concerned about the increased costs that universities would incur as a result of the bill’s passage. Senate Bill 40 would deem that all outdoor spaces on campuses are public forums for expression, potentially resulting in safety concerns. The bill provides no state funding to protect students and staff, such as the need for increased campus security, that would be needed to enforce the provisions of the bill.

SB 358 – Senate Education Committee Passes Flexibility Provisions for Testing, Graduation, State Report Cards & Pathway Out for ADC Districts

The Ohio General Assembly continues to consider additional flexibility provisions for students, educators, and schools in response to ongoing Covid-19 challenges.

In addition to the OEA supported flexibility provisions for evaluations and licenses in recently passed House Bill 404 (effective 11.23.2020; see OEA Legislative Watch 11.20.20), the Ohio Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 358 (R-Nathan Manning/D-Teresa Fedor) this week by a vote of 8-1 (No vote by Sen. Bill Colley-R).

  • OEA supports Senate Bill 358 (as passed by Senate Education Committee). In part, the bill would:
  • Prohibit state report card grades in 2020-21
  • Allows students to use final course grade instead of score on end-of-course exams for the purposes of high school graduation if the test is cancelled in 2020-21.
  • If US Dept. of Education offers a testing waiver, allows state Superintendent to apply after consultation with stakeholder groups (including OEA).
  • Establishes a three-person committee (Governor/designee, House Education Chair, and Senate Education Chair) to review proposals submitted by boards of education under ADC control. If ADC review committee approves a proposal, state Superintendent must also approve.

To see a complete summary of Senate Bill 358, click HERE.

HB 367 – Ohio House Passes Job Description Protections for Guidance Counselors

The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 367 (R-Susan Manchester/D-Jessica Miranda) by a vote of 76-10. The bill has been assigned to Senate Education Committee.

OEA supports House Bill 367 and provided proponent testimony in the Ohio House Education Committee. To view the OEA testimony click HERE.

HB 367 requires the Ohio Department of Education to make specified recommendations for a job description for school counselors employed by public schools. These recommendations must be based on the standards for school counselors most recently adopted by the State Board of Education, which specify that 80% of school counselor duties must be direct and indirect services to students and 20% of school counselor duties must be program planning and school support activities. Under the bill, school districts must consider these recommendations when preparing job descriptions and assigning duties to school counselors. The bill also requires at least one ODE employee to serve as a liaison for school counselors across the state.

House Bill 404 – Additional Flexibility for Schools, Student and Educators Due to Covid-19

The Ohio General Assembly has extended flexibility provisions impacting evaluations, licenses, assessments, health screenings, food processing program registration, retirant re-employment, college credit plus and electronic meetings by public bodies.

House Bill 404 (R-Manchester/D-Sweeney) received final approval from the General Assembly on November 19, 2020. The bill will be effective immediately upon being signed by the Governor. To see a summary of House Bill 404, click HERE.

Legislature Makes Changes to EdChoice Eligibility

Earlier this year, the House and Senate were at an impasse over EdChoice vouchers as over 1,200 buildings were set to become voucher eligible based on flawed school report cards. Unable to reach a long-term agreement, a freeze in eligibility was enacted carrying the 2019-2020 list of 517 schools forward for the 2020-2021 school year.

This week the General Assembly made changes to eligibility for the EdChoice voucher program. The changes were made by a conference committee for Senate Bill 89. Previously, the House-passed version of SB 89 contained many positive provisions including moving away from pass-through funding of vouchers and dissolution of existing academic distress commissions in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland. These provisions were removed in conference committee. Instead, new voucher eligibility criteria was put in place that expands EdChoice beyond its current levels, but smaller than the more than 1,200 schools that would be eligible next school year without a change.

The conference committee report was passed by the Senate (23-8) and House (51-36).

OEA opposed the final version of SB 89 as reported by the conference committee as it removed positive aspects of the bill passed by the House and increases voucher eligibility beyond 2020-2021 levels. Vouchers drain needed resources from the 90% of students who attend public schools. Diverting resources from public schools has real consequences such as larger class sizes and reduced opportunities for students. Additionally, recent analysis by the Cincinnati Enquirer shows that in nearly 9 of 10 cases, the public school district outperforms their private school voucher students on comparable state tests that both groups of students take. Further, SB 89 does nothing to address the problem of pass-through funding that deducts voucher amounts from state aid to school districts, thereby eroding local budgets.

Below is a summary of the provisions of SB 89 related to vouchers:

  • Cap: Retains the current cap on number of EdChoice vouchers (60,000 total vouchers with a trigger to increase the cap by 5% the following year if applications reach 90% of the cap)
  • Performance-Based Eligibility: Deletes the current criteria for a school to be EdChoice eligible based on report card performance (“D” or “F” on performance index two out of last three years; graduation rate of under 75% etc.)
  • Performance-Based Eligibility: Changes performance-based eligibility to a list of schools that meet both of the following:
    • Are in a school district with at least 20% Title I eligible students on average over the past three years; and
    • The building was in ranked in the lowest 20% of buildings on the performance index
      • For 2021-22 and the following year, lowest 20% for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years
      • For 2023-24, lowest 20% for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years
      • For 2024-25 and beyond, lowest 20% for two out of three of the most recent years
  • Grandfathering: Current EdChoice voucher recipients maintain their eligibility to renew through 12th grade
  • Grandfathering: Students who were eligible for an EdChoice voucher this school year based on the current (frozen) school-based eligibility list (2019-2020 list of 517 buildings)
  • Income-Based Eligibility: Increases the threshold of eligibility for the income-based EdChoice voucher from 200% of poverty to 250% of poverty. ($65,500 for a family of four). The income-based voucher is paid directly by the state and available statewide.

Bill to Alter Training Requirements for Armed School Staff Passes Ohio Senate

This week, Senate Bill 317 (Coley-Liberty Township) passed the Ohio Senate 21-11. The bill seeks to reverse the recent 12th District Court of Appeals ruling on Gabbard v. Madison Local School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2020-Ohio-1180, regarding training requirements for arming school staff. This decision is on appeal at the Ohio Supreme Court.

Specifically, the bill would exempt district staff authorized by local school boards of education to carry concealed firearms from a requirement that peace officer basic training be obtained. OEA opposes the legislation. The safety of Ohio’s students and school staff necessitates increased training requirements for armed personnel not fewer.

The bill now heads to the Ohio House for consideration.

Senate Introduces School Funding Legislation

This week, Senators Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) introduced Senate Bill 376 companion legislation to House Bill 305, better known as The Fair School Funding Plan.  The plan represents more than two years of work by legislators, local school leaders, and education finance experts to craft meaningful alternatives to the current way in which Ohio funds its schools.

OEA believes Ohio’s current school funding formula is a patchwork of band aids that fails to provide adequate funding. It is neither functional nor driven by what constitutes a high-quality education. The Fair School Funding Plan seeks to base decision making on identifiable student needs and the actual cost of providing a high-quality education. The plan direct funds charter school and voucher students rather than the current district pass-through system. Additionally, the proposal ends the use of gain caps and reduce the number of districts that rely on a funding guarantee.

Due to the advocacy efforts of OEA and other education organizations, changes were made to previous versions of the House bill that would direct 70% of the increased money to the poorest types of school districts. The plan has a projected six-year phase-in and would provide more than $1.9 billion in state funding for K-12 education.

You may view the district-by-district simulations here, runs for Joint Vocational School Districts here, and OEA’s press release here.

OEA Testifies in Support of Bill to Waive Testing, Report Card Ratings

On Wednesday, September 2, 2020, OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing offered proponent testimony before the Senate Education Committee for Senate Bill 358. SB 358 is bipartisan legislation that seeks to waive testing requirements, state report card ratings and several other provisions of law in response to the ongoing pandemic. Senate Bill 358 is jointly sponsored by Senators Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). The bill would provide additional flexibility to school districts in a number of areas. Provisions of the bill include:

  • Requiring the Ohio Department of Education to request a waiver for federally required state tests
  • Continuing the “freeze” on report cards and related sanctions, including new state takeovers, and EdChoice district designations
  • Extending flexibility for educator and administrator evaluations, student promotions, and graduation requirements through the 2020-2021 school year

OEA supports SB 358. Click here to read Vice President Wensing’s testimony.

Legislature Passes Civil Immunity Bill

The House and Senate have agreed to a conference committee report on House Bill 606 that would enact civil immunity protections to employers from COVID-related lawsuits. OEA is opposed to the legislation believing that if employees get sick due to unsafe conditions and the spread of the disease, HB 606 would set a very high bar for plaintiffs and prohibit class actions by groups of employees or unions. Two changes were made to the version of the bill passed by the Senate: removal of an emergency clause and extending the provisions of the bill through September 2021.

The conference committee report was agreed to by a vote of 63-30 in the House and 22-8 in the Senate. House Bill 606 will now head to Governor DeWine for his signature. Click here to read OEA’s letter of opposition to HB 606.

Bill to Clarify Training Requirements of Armed School Personnel Passed in Committee

This week, Senate Bill 317, sponsored by Senator Bill Coley (R-West Chester) passed the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. The bill seeks to clarify that local school boards can authorize educators and staff to carry concealed weapons on school property without police training.

Chair Coley stated that the intent of the bill is to overturn a state appeals court ruling that Madison Local Schools employees are required to complete Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) training before being authorized to carry concealed weapons on school property. On August 26, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court granted a stay execution of the 12th District Court of Appeals ruling as justices consider the case.
OEA opposes the legislation.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, OEA President Scott DiMauro presented opponent testimony on Senate Bill 320 (Matt Huffman-Lima) to the Senate Education Committee. The bill would leave decisions on reopening schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year in the hands of local school district boards of education and would prohibit state officials from preventing reopening, ordering closings, or requiring school districts to adopt health safety measures and guidelines for addressing COVID-19.

In his testimony, President DiMauro stated, “OEA’s top priority remains the health and safety of our students, members, and the communities we serve. OEA believes that any decision on re-opening schools next year must be driven by guidance from public health officials. While OEA supports local control, we also support the authority of the Governor and public health officials to make decisions that are data-driven and scientifically-based to keep our students and educators safe.”

Click here to read the entire SB 320 testimony.

This week the Ohio General Assembly used HB 164 to pass a package of changes to education law. These education amendments are intended to address issues arising from the closure of school buildings due to the COVID-19 health crisis. HB 164 was passed with an emergency measure and is effective immediately when signed by Governor. The General Assembly previously passed a package of education law changes in HB 197 (effective March 27, 2020).

Many of the education amendments to HB 164 are also in SB 319, a bill that received hearings in Senate Education Committee this week. SB 319 is no longer under consideration. OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified in Senate Education Committee regarding the various education amendments under consideration. OEA committee testimony can be found here.

Furlough and Continuing Contract Proposals NOT Included in HB 164

OEA strongly opposed two provisions in SB 319 regarding school district furloughs and limits on continuing contracts for next school year. Those provisions were NOT included in HB 164.

OEA’s analysis of HB 164 can be found here.

The package of education amendments in HB 164 included:

  • Payments to school districts with decreases in utility TPP value; funding adjustment for districts with utility TPP value increases; teacher and principal evaluations for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school year; teacher subject area or grade band assignment flexibility (OEA opposes this provision); online bus driver training; criteria for high school diplomas using final course grades in lieu of end-of-course exam scores; Third-Grade Reading Guarantee; reading improvement plans; academic assessment records for home instructed students; services to special needs students; remote learning; storm shelters; and religious expression in schools.

Senate Bill 319: Second Round of Covid-19 Education Law Changes Proposed

The recently introduced Senate Bill 319 contains additional proposed changes to education law for the 2020-2021 school year in response to the ramifications of COVID-19. A previous package of changes to education law, House Bill 197, was enacted in late March of this year.

Senate Bill 319 is scheduled for a first hearing in the Ohio Senate Education Committee on June 9, 2020.

As introduced, Senate Bill 319 would make the following temporary changes in state law for the 2020-21 school year:

  • Permits furloughing of school employees through June 30, 2021 (OEA opposes)
  • OTES relief measures (OEA supports)
  • Suspends automatic continuing contract if evaluations are incomplete (OEA opposes)
  • High school graduation flexibility (OEA supports)
  • Third grade reading guarantee adjustments (OEA interested party/neutral)
  • Additional payments in fiscal year 2020 or 2021 to certain districts that experience a decrease in taxable value of the district’s utility tangible personal property (OEA supports)
  • Flexibility to provide special education services (OEA supports)
  • On-line school bus driver training (OEA interested party/neutral)

Click here to read the entire OEA bill analysis.

OEA Advocates for Improved Voter Access
On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified before the House State and Local Government Committee calling for improved voter access for Ohio’s citizens.  The testimony was regarding House Bill 680.  As introduced, the bill created a contingency for a mail-only election in case of an emergency and prohibited the Secretary of State from mailing absentee voting applications to voters.  The committee removed those harmful provisions from the bill.  However, the bill represents a missed opportunity to make improvements such as the ability for voters to request absentee ballots online and for the Secretary of State to use federal funds to pay for postage on applications and ballots.  You can read OEA’s testimony here.

OEA continues to support measures to ensure that we have free and open elections and making sure Ohio’s citizens have unencumbered access to participate in our democracy. One helpful piece of legislation would be Senate Bill 191, sponsored by Senator Theresa Gavarone (R- Bowling Green) which would allow for online requests of absentee ballots.  This would make the process less time consuming, reduce costs and improve accuracy.  The bill is pending before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

On Thursday, May 29, 2020, the Ohio House passed House Bill 239 with strong, bipartisan support by a vote of 78-14. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus) seeks to reduce the amount of time that students spend on tests required by the state and local school districts in an effort to restore instructional time to the classroom. OEA strongly supports HB 239 and would like to thank the sponsors for their hard work on the legislation as well as all House members who supported the bill.

Prior to its passage, the bill was amended several times this week. In its final hearing before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, two amendments were added to the bill. One amendment reduced the number of state-required end-of-course exams by combining the assessments in American History and American Government into a single test. The second amendment exempts the 2020-2021 school year from the student retention requirement tied to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee. On the House floor, the bill was amended to make student participation in the ACT/SAT voluntary. However, the state will continue to offer a paid administration of the test for high school juniors who choose to take it.

As passed by the House, the bill now includes the following provisions:

  • Require school districts to convene a local work group made up of teachers, parents, and administrators to examine district-required testing and make recommendations for ways to reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests.
  • Reduce the number of high school end-of-course exams by combining American History and American Government assessments into a single test.
  • Alter the existing provision that allows local school boards to pass a resolution to exceed testing limits by requiring that such action be taken on an annual basis and be reported to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
  • Provide that the state continues to offer administration of the ACT/SAT tests for high school juniors, but student participation would be voluntary.
  • Exempt the 2020-2021 school year from student retention tied to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Require that ODE issue an annual report on the time spent on state- and district-required testing in Ohio’s schools.

House Bill 239 will now advance to the Ohio Senate. You can urge your State Senators to support this important legislation by clicking here.

OEA Members Testify in Support of Testing Reduction Legislation

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee made some changes to House Bill 239, the Testing Reduction Act before hearing testimony in support of the measure from two OEA members.  Tina Allen and Katrina Cook, both teachers in Columbus, spoke from their personal experience about the impact that over testing is having on their students.  Several other OEA members provided written testimony as proponents of the bill.

The changes to the bill, which is jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawly (D- Columbus), were consistent with provisions included in the state budget that was adopted last summer. The original bill called for the elimination of four end-of-course exams. The revised measure would retain tests in American History and American Government. The elimination of those tests had drawn opposition, most notably from the President of the Senate, which posed a major obstacle to passage of the bill. Other changes approved by the Committee include a parental opt-out for the ACT/SAT and exemptions for smaller districts to fill some administrative positions on testing work groups.

As it stands, Substitute House Bill 239 would do the following:

  • Require school districts to convene a local work group made up of teachers, parents and administrators to examine district-required testing and make recommendations for ways to reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests.
  • Alter the existing provision that allows local school boards to pass a resolution to exceed testing limits by requiring that such action be taken on an annual basis and be reported to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
  • Require that ODE issue an annual report on the time spent on state- and district-required testing in Ohio’s schools.
  • Provide that the state continues to offer a paid administration of the ACT/SAT tests for high school juniors, but student participation would be subject to a parental opt-out.

OEA strongly supports HB 239. Click here to encourage your State Representative to support the bill.

OEA Testifies on Re-opening of Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year

This week, OEA President DiMauro presented testimony in the Senate Finance Committee on OEA’s priorities for conditions necessary for the safe reopening of school buildings.

OEA’s top priority remains the health and safety of our students, members, and the communities we serve. Any decision on re-opening schools next year must be driven by guidance from public health officials. One element that will be essential in planning for how to navigate these waters at the local level is collaboration, communication, and mutual respect, as well as reliance on collective bargaining as a tool for creative problem solving.

Click here to read OEA’s testimony.

Yesterday, Governor DeWine announced a $775 million budget reduction for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020.  Budget reduction spreadsheets provided by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM), broken down by individual school districts and higher education institutions, can be found in the links below.

  • School districts can be accessed here
  • Higher education institutions can be accessed here

OEA Government Relations will continue to provide updates when additional details are available.

Today, Governor DeWine announced a $775 million budget reduction for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 (ends June 30, 2020).  This is due to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 health crisis.  The DeWine administration decided to not use funds from the $2.7 billion Rainy Day Fund for Fiscal Year 2020 stating that they will be needed for Fiscal Year 2021.

The cuts include:

  • 300 million (or a $3.7% reduction) in K-12 education foundation payments
  • $55 million in other education programs
  • $110 million in higher education
  • $210 million in Medicaid
  • $100 in other state agencies and programs

However, Ohio does expect approximately $490 million in federal CARES Act funds for education, 90 percent of which would be allocated to schools based on the Title I formula.  While the Title I funding formula is different than the state foundation funding formula, these federal funds could mitigate some of the state reductions.

OEA Government Relations will provide an update once additional details are available.

Legislature Passes Emergency Coronavirus Legislation

On Wednesday, March 25, 2020 the House and Senate both gave unanimous approval to legislation (HB 197) that includes several changes to current law in reaction to the unprecedented public health crisis.  The changes to law are temporary, lasting just for this year and will take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.  Among the changes are cancellation of state testing, the elimination of school report cards, freezing EdChoice eligibility and an extension of primary voting until April 28th.

Below is a summary of some of the key provisions of the bill:

Minimum School Year

  • Permits school districts and schools other than e-schools to use distance learning to make up for any missed days or hours of instruction caused by the ordered closure of Ohio schools
    • Requires school district to utilize the makeup plan they created prior to August 1, 2019 (ORC 3313.482)
    • If a school district has not adopted a plan under ORC 3313.482 the bill permits the district to do so.

Testing

  • Exempts all schools from administering state tests for the 2019-2020 school year,   including  state achievement tests, alternative assessments, OELPA and WebXams.
  • Prohibits the Department of Education from subtracting from a district or school’s state aid account for students who were unable to complete assessments.

Graduation

  • Permits schools to grant a diploma to any student on track to graduate and for whom the principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, determines that the student has successfully completed the student’s high school curriculum or individualized education program at the time of the Director’s order.
  • Permits a district or school that has previously adopted a resolution to exceed the minimum curriculum requirements prescribed under current law to elect to require only the minimum curriculum for the purpose of determining high school graduation for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Declares the intent of the General Assembly that school districts and schools continue to find ways to keep students actively engaged in learning opportunities for the remainder of the school year and to grant students who need in-person instructional experiences to complete diploma requirements or career-technical education programs to access school facilities as soon as reasonably possible after the Director of Health permits such access, even if the last instructional day of the school year has passed.

Report Cards

  • For the 2019-20 school year, prohibits ODE from publishing and issuing ratings for overall grades, components, and individual measures on the state report cards, report cards for dropout recovery schools, report cards for joint vocational school districts and other career-technical planning districts, and submitting preliminary data for report cards for school districts and buildings.
  • Permits the State Superintendent to waive the requirement to complete any report based on data from assessments that were to be administered in the 2019-2020 school year.

Safe-Harbor (protection from penalties/sanctions)

  • Establishes a safe harbor from penalties and sanctions for districts and schools based on the absence of state report card grades for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Includes safe harbor from:
    • Restructuring under state law based on poor performance;
    • The Columbus City School Pilot Project;
    • Provisions for academic distress commissions and progressive consequences for existing commissions (but specifically retains the chief executive officer’s powers prior to the 2020-2021 school year);
    • Buildings becoming subject to the Educational Choice Scholarship;
    • Determination of “challenged school districts” where new start-up charter schools may be located;
    • Charter school closure requirements;
    • Identification of school districts and buildings for federal and state targeted support and improvement;
    • Conditions under which charter schools may change sponsors.

Teacher Evaluations

  • Prohibits the use of the value-added progress dimension from the 2019-2020 school year to measure student learning attributable to teachers for their performance evaluations.
  • Permits a board of education to elect not to conduct evaluations of district employees, including teachers, administrators, or a superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year, if the district board determines that it would be impossible or impracticable to do so.
    • If a district board elects not to evaluate an employee for the 2019-2020 school year, the employee shall be considered not to have had evaluation procedures complied with and shall not be penalized for the purpose of reemployment.
    • Specifies that the district board may collaborate with any bargaining organization representing employees of the district in determining whether to complete evaluations for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Nothing in the amendment precludes a district board from using an evaluation completed prior to the Director of Health’s order in employment decisions.

Educator Licenses

  • Permits ODE to issue one-year, nonrenewable, provisional licenses to educators that have met all other requirements for the requested license except for the requirement to pass a subject area exam prescribed by the State Board.
  • However, an educator that is issued a provisional license is required to take and pass the appropriate subject area exam prior to expiration of the license as a condition of advancing the license.
  • Extends current law deadlines with which a licensee must comply to maintain a license’s validity that occurs during the emergency declared by Executive Order 2020-01D until the sooner of 90 days after the emergency ends or December 1, 2020.
  • Extends a license’s validity until the sooner of 90 days after the emergency declared by Executive Order 2020-01D ends or December 1, 2020, if the license would otherwise expire during the emergency, unless it is revoked, suspended, or otherwise subject to discipline or limitation under the applicable law for reasons other than complying with the deadline extensions by delaying in taking action to maintain the license.
  • Specifies that a licensing entity may take disciplinary action against a licensee except because of a licensee’s compliance with the deadline extensions in delaying in taking action to maintain the license.

Waivers and Extended Deadlines

  • Gives authority to the State Superintendent to adjust deadlines set in current law and required of the State Board of Education, educators, and schools, including:
    • Teacher evaluations;
    • Intent to reemploy notifications;
    • School safety drills;
    • Emergency management tests;
    • Requirements to fill a vacancy on a board of education;
    • Updating teacher evaluation policies; and
    • Gifted screening requirements.
  • Permits the State Superintendent to waive the requirement to complete any report based on data from assessments that were to be administered in the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Permits the State Superintendent to waive or extend deadlines, or otherwise grant providers and students flexibility, for completion of adult education program requirements interrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Waives the requirement that the parents of a homeschooled student must submit assessment data to the resident school district as a condition of the district allowing the student to continue to receive home instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.

Third Grade Reading Guarantee

  • Exempts schools from retaining students under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, unless school principal and student’s reading teacher determine the student is not reading at grade level.

EdChoice Vouchers

  • Prohibits awarding of first time performance-based EdChoice scholarships to students first eligible to receive them this year.
  • Essentially retains the 2019-2020 list of EdChoice eligible schools for the coming school year.

Services for Special Needs Students

  • Permits during the duration of school closures the holders of licenses issued by the following boards to provide services electronically or via telehealth communication to children who receive services through their resident school districts, Autism Scholarship or the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship with no penalty:
    • The State Board of Education, with respect to intervention specialists;
    • The Ohio Speech and Hearing Professionals Board;
    • The Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board;
    • The State Board of Psychology; and
    • The Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board

Primary Election

  • Voids the Secretary of State order of a June 2nd primary election.
  • Retains the March 17th Primary Election and extends absentee voting through April 28th.
  • Requires Secretary of State to send postcard to all eligible voters about change.
  • Requires County Board of Elections to send requested absentee ballots with postage-paid return envelopes.
  • Votes previously received or postmarked on or before April 28th will count.
  • Allows voters who are disabled or unable to receive mail to vote at County Board of Elections.

Budget Stabilization Fund Transfer

  • Authorizes the Ohio Director of Budget and Management to transfer cash in Fiscal Year 2020 from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to ensure the fiscal year 2020 GRF budget is balanced, on the approval of at least two Controlling Board members from each chamber of the General Assembly.

Tax Changes

  • Authorizes the Tax Commissioner to extend state tax filing and payment deadlines for the duration of the Governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Other Provisions

  • Permits public bodies to operate meetings electronically so long as the public is aware and can participate electronically (for use only during the period of the emergency, but not beyond December 1, 2020, if the period of the emergency continues beyond that date).
  • Allows public retirement systems to delay Board elections until December 1, 2020.
  • Permits the Chancellor of Higher Education, in consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction to extend, waive, or otherwise modify requirements of the College Credit Plus Program.

Virtual Rally for Public Schools: March 18 at 3:30

In response to the recent confirmation of coronavirus cases in Ohio, and Governor DeWine’s declaration of a public health emergency, we are adjusting our plans for the Rally for Public Schools on March 18.

We will not be holding an in-person rally at the statehouse. Instead, we will be holding a “virtual rally” at 3:30 pm on March 18 to kick off two weeks of action in support of the students in our public schools. This tele-conference will display the breadth of our public schools coalition, update attendees on the voucher crisis in our school districts, and engage activists in concrete next steps to protect public education.

Please RSVP here if you can join us in our virtual rally on March 18th!

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OEA March Lobby Day is now Lobby Week – 23rd-27th

As a follow up to the upcoming virtual Rally for Public Schools on Wednesday, March 18, OEA is asking members to engage with legislators in your districts the following week (March 23-27th).  An OEA Member Lobby Day in Columbus originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 will not be held.

Please contact Government Relations at (614) 227-3056 or govtsrv@ohea.org when you have scheduled an in-district meeting with your State Representative or State Senator, or should you need any assistance.  Talking points and other information will be shared in the near future.

In the meantime, please plan to participate in the ”virtual rally”!  Encourage your co-workers, friends, family, and neighbors to do so as well.

Click here to Register today:  www.rallyforpublicschools.org

Last week, a strong, bi-partisan majority (88-7) in the Ohio House voted in favor of a measure (Senate Bill 89) that sought to resolve the still looming crisis that would make more than 1,200 public schools eligible for EdChoice vouchers based on a flawed report card system. SB 89 would eliminate most new EdChoice vouchers and shift the program to one based on family income.

Additionally, the bill dissolves Academic Distress Commissions (a part of the failed state takeover law) and restores local control of the Lorain, Youngstown and East Cleveland school districts by June 30, 2020.

However, on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, the Senate voted not to accept the House-passed bill.  Now, with both the House and Senate having passed different bills, the sides remain at impasse.  A series of nine public hearings on the EdChoice voucher program began this week before the Conference Committee on a related bill (HB 9).

Upcoming hearing dates include:

  • February 15, 2020 9am-Noon, Statehouse Room 313
  • February 17, 2020 9am-Noon, Statehouse Room 313
  • February 18, 2020 at 5:00pm, Statehouse Room 313
  • February 19, 2020 at 5:00pm, Statehouse Room 313
  • February 20, 2020 at 5:00pm, Statehouse Room 313

We strongly urge OEA members to participate in these hearings, either by appearing in person or by submitting written testimony.  If you are able to help, please contact OEA Government Relations for more information: 614-227-3056 or email davisr@ohea.org

OEA President Scott DiMauro testified before the panel on Thursday in support of SB 89 as passed by the House.  Click here to read his testimony.

On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, the Ohio House voted with a strong, bi-partisan majority (88-7) in favor of Amended Substitute Senate Bill 89.  Through this action, the House seeks to resolve the still looming crisis that would have more than 1,200 public schools eligible for EdChoice vouchers based on a flawed report card system.  SB 89 addresses the issue of EdChoice vouchers by eliminating most new EdChoice vouchers and shifting the program to one based on family income.

Additionally, the bill dissolves Academic Distress Commissions (a part of the failed state takeover law) and restores local control of the Lorain, Youngstown and East Cleveland school districts by June 30, 2020.

“The Ohio House took an important step to transform the voucher program in a way that moves away from the blame game and toward meeting the needs of ALL students,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “I’m hopeful that the broad, bi-partisan support in the House is indicative of a new course in education policy -one that addresses the needs of the 90% of Ohio students who attend our public schools.”

The grading system Ohio currently uses to determine performance-based vouchers doesn’t accurately reflect how well a school is educating its students, and that the state report cards and over-reliance on standardized tests to measure student achievement need to be fixed.  Another key difference between the current EdChoice performance-based voucher and those based on income eligibility is the way they are funded.  Income-based vouchers are funded directly by the state instead of “pass-through” funding that reduce payments to local school district which drains needed resources from students in the public schools.

OEA supports SB 89 and urges the Senate to move swiftly to adopt the House’s changes to the bill.  Click here to urge your Senator to support SB 89.

Major Provisions of Am. Sub. SB 89 (as passed by the House)

Vouchers:

  • Rename the existing income-based EdChoice program as the “Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship” and set the income threshold at 250% of the federal poverty, higher than the current 200 percent but lower than the 300 percent included in a plan that recently passed the Senate. The House plan would rank order applicants based on income, so lower income families would get priority in cases where appropriations aren’t sufficient to fund all qualifying applications.
  • Grandfathers current EdChoice voucher recipients. New performance-based vouchers would largely cease to be awarded after this year except for siblings of some current recipients.
  • The list of buildings at which siblings are eligible for performance-based vouchers would shrink to 188 in the coming school year, via removal of the state report card’s K-3 literacy measure from eligibility criteria.
  • Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, specifies that a student who received a performance-based voucher the previous year but whose family income qualifies the student for the income-based program would be transferred to that (state paid) voucher program.

In contrast to the House-passed plan in SB 89, the Senate-passed plan (HB 9) would maintain traditional performance-based EdChoice for 2020-2021 and beyond.  The number of eligible schools for the coming school year would be around 425. Additionally, the Senate plan also increased the income eligibility threshold to 300% of poverty.  Students who are eligible for both programs would continue to default to EdChoice and deductions to local school districts would continue to grow.

Academic Distress Commissions (ADCs)

  • Requires academic distress commissions to transition control of the district from the ADC and CEO back to the local school board by June 30, 2020 at which point the ADC will be dissolved.
  • Places a moratorium on the creation of new ADCs until the end of 2023.
  • Establishes the School Transformation Board (STB), a nine-member board responsible for overseeing actions related to school district academic performance improvement.
  • Requires ODE in collaboration with the STB to make recommendations to the State Board of Education on the state-level school improvement process.
  • Requires the STB to submit a report to the General Assembly on recommendations for replacing ADCs.

Additional Provisions (OEA supports)

  • Establishes a sunset in September 2020 for a provision that was included in the last budget regarding school district territory transfers. The provision allows some township residents to petition for transfer to a new school district and bypass review by the State Board of Education.
  • Includes education cost studies regarding special education and English Language Learners due to the legislature by December 2021.
  • Repeals the “parent trigger” pilot project in the Columbus City School District.

OEA supports the House-passed version of SB 89 as it addresses several of the immediate issues facing our public schools.  Please take the time to thank your representative for their support by clicking here to take action.

OEA will hold a lobby day on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. At the lobby day, members will be briefed by OEA staff on current legislative issues and will have the opportunity to meet with state lawmakers and staff.

Join your colleagues at the OEA Headquarters’ Media Center, located at 225 East Broad Street in Columbus at 9 a.m. for a short briefing. We strongly encourage you to schedule your meetings with legislators prior to lobby day. Find contact information for your legislator by visiting www.legislature.state.oh.us. If you are unavailable to attend lobby day in Columbus, we encourage you to set up an in-district meeting with your legislator for that week. Talking points on key legislative issues will be provided.

If you need further information or to RSVP for the lobby day in Columbus, please contact Lisa Simpson, in the OEA Government Relations Division, at simpsonl@ohea.org or 1-800-282- 1500 ext. 3056.

Weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate failed to produce an agreement on a fix for the pending expansion of EdChoice vouchers. Instead, in order to avert a February 1st deadline and buy more time, the legislature passed a 60-day delay in the opening of the voucher application window. On Thursday night, the House approved the delay, 86-5. The Senate concurred this afternoon, 23-6, setting up further negotiations.

Earlier this week, the Ohio Senate passed its version of a voucher “fix.” The Senate-passed measure would reduce the number of schools eligible for traditional EdChoice vouchers by exempting building rated A, B or C and those with a D that are not in the lowest 20% on the performance index indicator. That change would be for the next three years and reportedly would reduce the number of eligible buildings for the 2020-21 school year from more than 1,200 to 425. However, the bill also would make a permanent increase in the eligibility level for the statewide income-based voucher to 300% of poverty. This would potentially provide state-funded vouchers to a family of four making up to $72,000—regardless of the quality of their local public schools. The bill also contained an amendment to remove Lorain from state takeover at the end of June and would provide $30 million to offset the costs of voucher expansion to ninth-graders who had not attended public schools the prior year. The House rejected the Senate plan by a vote of 93-0 setting up a conference committee on the bill.

OEA opposed the Senate proposal as it would permanently expand the statewide income-based voucher program while only providing temporary and partial relief to Ohio’s public schools and the students they serve. House leadership has proposed further reductions to EdChoice eligibility by eliminating the broken K-3 literacy component, a limited application window, an overall study of vouchers, report cards and state testing, as well as a proposal to do away with the “failing schools” model entirely and moving to a voucher-based solely on household income.

We need to continue to hold legislators accountable to address the voucher issue. Click here to take action.

Additionally, there appears to be growing recognition by legislative leaders that Ohio’s school report card system is misleading and broken. As OEA continues to advocate for changes to resolving the voucher crisis, the next item of business should be serious and systemic report card reform.

OEA President Scott DiMauro presented opponent testimony this week (9/10/19) before the Ohio Senate Education Committee on the Senate’s latest proposal to change the ill-conceived law that allows the state to take control of school districts deemed to be struggling.

  • To read a copy of the OEA testimony, please click here.
  • To watch video of the Senate Education Committee hearing, please click here.
  • To contact your state Senator to express your opinion on this issue, click here.

Another committee hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 10:15 a.m. in the Senate Building South Hearing Room and possibly another if-needed hearing would be held on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 11:30 am. Numerous changes to the Senate proposal are expected to be made in committee next week, followed by a possible vote.

The Senate proposal replaces the language in House-passed HB 154. Four members on the Senate Education Committee (Sens. Nathan Manning-R, Teresa Fedor-D, Teresa, Tina Maharath-D, Vernon Sykes-D) voted against accepting the Senate “substitute” bill as the new version of HB 154.

In his opponent testimony, OEA President DiMauro called for “a non-punitive school improvement framework that depends on local control and stakeholder buy-in, acknowledges the time needed for meaningful improvement, and recognizes the need for flexibility in ensuring that each community’s improvement plan reflects the unique needs of that community.”

President DiMauro highlighted OEA’s objections to state takeovers, stating that “any successful legislation will reflect a recognition that state takeovers are an inherently ineffective and inefficient policy model for collaborative school improvement.”

OEA recommended that three critical changes be made to the Senate proposal:

  • Return local control to school districts and communities currently under the control of an Academic Distress Commission/CEO before the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Return all collective bargaining rights taken away under the current state takeover law (HB 70; 131st).
  • Increase and strengthen teacher membership on the proposed state-level School Transformation Board (STB) and the district-level School Improvement Committee (similar to the current ADC).

At this time, the major outlines of the Senate proposal are as follows:

  • Restarts the report card clock on state takeovers for all school districts (beginning with the 2018-19 report card) other than the districts (Youngstown, Lorain, E. Cleveland City Schools) that have already been taken over. Districts would continue to enter state takeover status after three consecutive overall “F” grades on the state report card. However, if a district enters into to a contract with a state-approved school improvement expert/organization after a second consecutive “F,” the district would be granted an extension that delays a state takeover until a sixth consecutive “F.”
  • The three districts already under an Academic Distress Commission (ADC) would remain in state takeover status. However, the school board would be eligible to petition a newly created state-level School Transformation Board (STB) for “dissolution” of the current ADC (local board may petition STB between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020). A dissolution petition must contain an “alternative intervention option” proposed by the local school board that the STB would approve or deny. If the STB approves the petition, the ADC is dissolved and the local school board resumes oversight of the district (as long as the STB does not determine the district is failing to comply with the “alternative intervention option”). If the petition for dissolution is denied, the district would remain under the control of an ADC, which the bill renames a School Improvement Committee (SIC). The CEO of an ADC is renamed a Director of a SIC. A SIC Director would have more immediate unilateral power than an ADC CEO because the Senate proposal takes away teacher collective bargaining rights even faster than the current state takeover law (HB 70).

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The amount of Foundation Aid, Student Wellness and Success Funds, and Enrollment Growth Supplements, based on the House-Senate Conference Committee report, can be found in the links below.

 Funding simulations for fiscal years 2021 and 2022

  • For school districts can be accessed here
  • For joint vocational school districts can be accessed here

Student Wellness and Success Funds can be used on any of the following: (1) mental health services, (2) services for homeless youth, (3) services for child welfare involved youth, (4) community liaisons, (5) physical health care services, (6) mentoring programs, (7) family engagement and support services, (8) City Connects programming, (9) professional development regarding the provision of trauma informed care, and (10) professional development regarding cultural competence, (11) and student services provided prior to or after the regularly scheduled school day or any time school is not in session.

NOTE – The Governor line-itemed vetoed a provision that would have guaranteed that high-wealth districts receive a base per-pupil amount no less than the amount of per-pupil funds received by private schools for auxiliary administrative support. This provision would not have taken effect until next biennium (FY 22), therefore the funding simulations based on the Conference Committee report remain unchanged by this veto.

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The Ohio Education Association (OEA) welcomes the progress made by state lawmakers on some fronts in the state budget. However, OEA is disappointed that more could not have been achieved on important issues, notably the repeal of the failed state takeover of troubled school districts which was overwhelmingly supported by the House in its adoption of HB 154.  To view a summary of HB 166, click here.

OEA President Scott DiMauro noted that a moratorium on new Academic Distress Commissions in the budget deal is a tacit admission of what educators, parents, students and an increasing number of legislators know to be true – that state takeovers don’t serve the interests of the students they were intended to help.

“Sadly, the legislature leaves the communities of Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland languishing under a failing law until they can figure out how to give districts struggling with high levels of poverty the support they need,” said DiMauro. “As we continue the fight to enact HB 154 to repeal state takeovers and restore local control, I am deeply disappointed in the decision to allow CEOs to continue wreaking havoc on our schools.”

On the plus side, OEA commends Governor DeWine for his line-item veto of a provision that would have eliminated the requirement that teachers and paraprofessionals be properly certified or licensed by the Ohio Department of Education. OEA opposed this provision because it would have removed an important protection for students and the education profession. OEA is committed to serving students with highly-prepared educators.

OEA is pleased to see the expansion of school breakfast programs in high-poverty districts and welcomes the significant new funding for wrap-around services in those districts that help students get ready to learn.

OEA also applauds lawmakers for taking a small but important step toward fixing Ohio’s misleading report card system by adjusting the value-added grading scale to give school districts more credit for the progress they have made with students.

OEA is encouraged by requirements that charter e-schools disclose more information about their operations. However, OEA is disappointed with budget provisions that dial-back on accountability for charter sponsors and drop-out prevention charter schools.

Lastly, OEA believes strongly that the expansion of voucher programs in the budget is unnecessary. “Ohio has no shortage of vouchers to pay private school tuition on the taxpayer’s dime,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “It is time to end the unnecessary and costly expansion of vouchers and focus on meeting the needs of all students in Ohio’s public schools.”

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Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee amended House Bill 166, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. The Senate version of the bill removes the OEA-supported language that repeals the failed state takeover law, restores local control and teacher collective bargaining rights, and holds all school districts accountable for locally developed school improvement teams and student-centered improvement plans in F-rated school buildings. Additionally, the Senate version of the bill included new high school graduation requirements that do not meet the needs of Ohio students.

On Thursday, the bill passed the Ohio Senate with a vote of 33-0. Prior to passage, Senator Teresa Fedor (D- Toledo) offered two OEA-supported amendments to remove the Senate expansion of EdChoice vouchers and to remove changes to educator licensure. Both amendments were tabled by a vote of 21-12.

HB 166 will now head to a conference committee to address the differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions. The House and Senate conference committee members are: Senators Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Dave Burke (R-Marysville) and Sean O’Brien (D-Cortland) and Representatives Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Jim Butler (R-Dayton) and Jack Cera (D-Bellaire).

The General Assembly must pass the completed budget by the end of June. Below is a brief summary of some of the changes the Senate made to the bill in different education policy areas.

Academic Distress Commissions:  OEA is urging the HB 166 Conference Committee to adopt the House-passed Academic Distress Commission (ADC) language that was removed by the Senate. An alternate ADC plan being pushed by some in the Senate, and opposed by OEA, was not included in the bill. The House-passed ADC language is the same as language in HB 154, a stand-alone bill that passed in the House by 83-12 earlier this year. The House-passed ADC language would repeal the disastrous state takeover law, restore local control to elected school boards, return teacher collective bargaining rights, and hold school districts accountable by requiring school improvement teams and plans in F-rated school buildings. This will be OEA’s top priority in conference committee.

Graduation:  The Senate-passed bill includes new long-term graduation requirements based on a plan put forward by Ohio Excels (a group representing business interests).  This is an item of difference for conference committee as the House-passed budget did not include changes to graduation requirements.

Under the proposal, the new requirements would begin with the class of 2023.  A student would need to achieve a competency score on two end-of-course exams (Algebra and ELA II) and earn two “graduation seals” in addition to earning requisite course credits in order to graduate.  Two tests (Geometry and ELA I) would be eliminated.  If after two attempts a student did not score high enough on the tests, a student may use an alternative demonstration of competency that is limited to 1) college-level course completion through College Credit Plus; 2) a career technical education pathway; or 3) enlisting in the military.  These are not viable options for all students.

OEA opposes this plan as currently written as has an overly rigid reliance on high-stakes testing.  Students should be able to demonstrate what they know in ways other than a standardized test.  OEA will be advocating for improvements to this language or that the issue to be considered in separate legislation.

Licensure: Eliminates the requirement that teachers providing instruction in core subject areas be “properly certified or licensed” to teach in the subject areas and grade levels in which they provide instruction. Also, eliminates the requirement that paraprofessionals employed by a program supported with federal Title I funds be “properly certified” in order to provide academic support in core subject areas. A Senate floor amendment was offered to remove these provisions from the budget bill, but the amendment was not accepted. Under continuing law, teachers and paraprofessionals must have a license, permit, or certification to provide instruction, but under the bill they would not be required to be “properly certified” in any specific subject areas or grade levels.

For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, allows an individual who holds a valid educator license in any of grades 7 through 12 to teach a computer science course if, prior to teaching the course, the individual completes a professional development program approved by the district superintendent or school principal that provides content knowledge specific to the course the individual will teach.

Report Cards: Modifies the grading scale used to determine letter grades assigned for the report card’s value-added progress dimension, which computes “gain index” values based on the number of standard errors above or below the mean on a statistical measure of academic growth. This may result in higher value-added progress grades for some districts.

On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the Senate Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill 166, the state budget bill. The Senate substitute bill retains House-passed language on the repeal of Academic Distress Commissions (HB 154). However, the Senate is expected to make changes to this language in an omnibus amendment next week.

The substitute bill also does not currently include provisions related to high school graduation. A committee and Senate floor vote are expected next week. The House and Senate will then have a conference committee to work out the differences between the versions of the bill passed by each chamber. By Ohio law, the final version of the budget is to be completed by June 30, 2019.

A summary of the policy changes of the substitute bill is available by clicking here.

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019 OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro testified in support of House Bill 239, the Testing Reduction Act.

The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus), would reduce state-required testing by eliminating four high school end-of-course exams and set up local work groups in each district to make recommendations on reducing the testing load on students.

Click here to read OEA’s testimony.

In a lengthy committee hearing on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, the Ohio Senate Education Committee heard from dozens of witnesses regarding the OEA-supported HB 154 Academic Distress Commission (ADC) provisions included in the House-passed budget bill (HB 166).

House Bill 154, which would repeal the HB 70 ADC state takeovers and restore local control, was also recently passed as a stand-alone bill by the Ohio House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support (83-12).

OEA President Becky Higgins provided joint testimony with Youngstown Education Association (YEA) President Larry Ellis and Lorain Education Association (LEA) President Jay Pickering. Youngstown and Lorain were the first two school districts subjected to the HB 70 state takeover law. Becky, Larry and Jay asked the Senate Education Committee to keep the HB 154 Academic Distress Commission (ADC) language in the state budget bill.

Other educators testifying as proponents of keeping the HB 154 ADC language in the budget bill included Canton Professional Educators Association President Paul Palomba; North College Hill Education Association President Deborah Amend; Lorain teachers Julie Garcia, Sandra Peloquin, Karen Rossi and Alexis Hayden; Youngstown teachers Paula Valentini, Jennifer Kluchar, Leesa Boyer, Tina Banks, and Shannon Sefcik.

There is widespread agreement – among educators, local officials and state lawmakers of both parties – that the law (HB 70) mandating the state takeover of troubled school districts is flawed and needs to be replaced. OEA urges the Ohio Senate to keep the language in the House-passed budget that is part of HB 154 and that would do away with state-mandated Academic Distress Commissions.

OEA recognizes that other approaches are being offered to address the problems that plague troubled schools in our state.

Whatever the eventual agreed-upon plan looks like, we believe strongly that it should include a role for educators who well understand the needs of their students and what it will take to improve student performance. In short, we don’t need state mandates. It’s time to restore local control of our schools.

OEA looks forward working with Senator Lehner and members of the Senate Education Committee on a viable alternative to the current fatally-flawed state takeover law

OEA Testifies on Graduation Proposal
OEA believes that any proposal for long-term graduation requirements must include a viable, attainable and meaningful path to graduation that does not rely on high-stakes testing.

2019 Educator Lobby Day – June 12th
Join your colleagues Wednesday, June 12th at 9 a.m., at the OEA Headquarters’ Media Center, 225 E. Broad Street, in Columbus, for a short briefing about current legislative issues prior to an opportunity to meet with state lawmakers.

Click here to download the full newsletter.

OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro testified before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Primary & Secondary Education on Thursday, May 16.

He presented OEA’s views on school funding, academic distress commissions, graduation requirements, teacher minimum salary, charter schools and other policy issues. You can read more about OEA’s positions in OEA’s testimony that was given before the subcommittee.

On Wednesday, May 8, the Ohio House Finance Committee made further changes to the state budget and then voted, 32-0, to send the measure (Substitute HB 166) to the full House.

The omnibus amendment approved by the Committee contained more than 110 changes.

Some of the provisions in the amendment are supported by OEA, such as the insertion of HB 154 that would repeal the state takeover law and restore local control. Additionally, for the first time in almost 20 years, the minimum teacher salary for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree would be raised from $20,000 to $30,000.

After House floor deliberations on Thursday, May 9, the Ohio House passed the bill by a vote of 85-9. New district funding spreadsheets detailing that House-passed version are currently unavailable. The bill is now pending in the Ohio Senate Finance subcommittees for consideration.

Details of the major changes in the House substitute bill are outlined below.

  • Includes OEA-supported HB 154 that repeals the state takeover law and restores local control in the budget bill.
  • Changes the minimum salary for teachers with bachelor’s degrees to $30,000 rather than $20,000 as under current law.
  • Prohibits school districts, municipalities or other forms of local government from proposing tax issues for an August special election. The bill has a narrow exception for school districts if the purpose of a tax is to prevent triggering a declaration of fiscal emergency.
  • Specifies that the changes to school and district report card grades do not impact the sanctions or penalties of EdChoice eligibility or the definition of “challenged school district” in which new start-up charter schools may be located.
  • Requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Joint Education Oversight Committee, to complete studies on special education, gifted funding, incentive programs for rural districts serving gifted children, economically disadvantaged students, preschool, English learners and Educational Service Centers by December 31, 2020. Recommendations from these studies shall be the basis of legislation to be enacted by the General Assembly in order to take effect for FY 2022 or FY 2023.
  • Allows for the drop off of students who are being transported to nonpublic or community schools to be up to 30 minutes prior to start time and pickup within 30 minutes after dismissal.
  • Requires ODE to study the cost of charter school operations and the transportation of community school and nonpublic school students by December 31, 2020.
  • Removes positive changes from the substitute bill on E-school attendance and student absence policies.
  • Allows a school district to propose a tax levy for school safety and security and give some of the revenue to chartered nonpublic schools located in the district to be used for that purpose.
  • Requires that the resolution and ballot language proposing the levy specify the portion of the proceeds to be allocated to chartered nonpublic schools. Specifies that the chartered nonpublic school portion be divided among all such schools located within the territory of the school district based on the number of resident students enrolled in each chartered nonpublic school.
  • Permits in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, community colleges, state community colleges, and technical colleges to charge $5 per credit hour over what the institution charged in the 2018-2019 academic year for in-state undergraduate instructional and general fees, instead of limiting the increase of instructional and general fees to 2% as under previous versions of the bill.
  • Includes additional tax cuts that call for a 6.6 percent reduction from current rates for all tax brackets. Retains the elimination of the two lowest tax brackets. That means that citizens earning less than $22,500 would pay no state income taxes.

OEA members are greatly concerned about the amount of testing that Ohio’s students must endure. Excessive testing has led to a loss of instructional time in the classroom and lost educational opportunities for students. OEA has been urging state lawmakers to do more to address this issue and, with the introduction of new legislation this week, it’s clear that legislators are listening.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019 the Testing Reduction Act (HB 239) was introduced in the Ohio House. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus), is bipartisan legislation that makes important changes to Ohio law to reduce state-required testing and bring together teachers, parents and administrators in each school district to take steps to further reduce the testing load on students.

OEA strongly supports this legislation.

Specifically, HB 239 would make the following changes:

  • Reduce state-mandated standardized tests to the federal minimums by eliminating four high school end-of-course exams. (Geometry, ELA I, American History, American Government)
  • Require school districts to convene a local work group made up of teachers, parents and administrators to examine district-required testing and make recommendations for ways to reduce the amount of time spent by students on testing.
  • Alter the existing provision that allows local boards of education to pass a resolution to exceed testing limits by requiring such action be taken on an annual basis and reported to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
  • Require that ODE issue an annual report on the time spent on state- and district-required testing in Ohio’s schools.
  • Provide that the state continues to offer a paid administration of the ACT/SAT for high school juniors, but student participation would be voluntary.

OEA will continue to keep members updated on this important bill.

On Thursday, May 2, the House Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of HB 166, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021. OEA appreciates that the House proposal provides an additional $125 million over the biennium to support disadvantaged students as proposed by Governor DeWine.

While the Fair School Funding Plan was not included in the substitute bill, OEA remains hopeful that work will continue to improve Ohio’s school funding formula that currently falls short of meeting the needs of students and the school districts that educate them.

OEA also applauds the removal of the Governor’s proposals for modifications to the Academic Distress Commissions. The provisions would have resulted in a vast and rapid expansion of state power over school districts. It is anticipated that HB 154, the bill that repeals the state takeover law and restores local control, that was recently passed by the House will be included in the budget omnibus amendment next week. Additionally, OEA supports the removal of language that would have changed the definition of full-time equivalent students who are eligible for state subsidies at community colleges. OEA believes this change would have negatively impacted approximately six community colleges.

While OEA believes some matters have been improved, we are seeking additional changes to the budget bill. OEA Government Relations staff is currently reviewing the language in the bill and will provide additional details as they become available. HB 166 is expected to have additional amendments and a vote next week.

Click here to view or download a synopsis of the major changes to substitute HB166.

May 1, 2019, the Ohio House of Representatives voted 83-12 in favor of HB 154 (Jones-R/J.Miller-D), which would repeal state-mandated Academic Distress Commissions and restore control of local school districts to elected school boards.

The current state takeover law (HB 70 – 131st General Assembly) provides no citizen oversight through elected school boards, no voice for classroom teachers and has been bad for our kids.

“The OEA has always believed that silencing the voices of educators and local officials in determining the best ways to improve student performance was ill-conceived,” said OEA President Becky Higgins. “Educators want to be able to advocate for their students and we are very pleased that House lawmakers have taken the first step toward replacing the current law. We look forward to working with Senate members to complete this important task.”

State government has already taken away local control from Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland schools. In the next two years, if current law is not changed, state government could take away local control from Dayton, Columbus, Canton, Mansfield, Lima, Toledo, Ashtabula, Euclid, North College Hill and Painesville schools.

HB 154, which has strong bi-partisan support, also includes accountability measures that require school districts that have an F-rated building to set up school improvement teams.

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This week, OEA submitted written opposition testimony to a bill (HB 90) sponsored by Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) that would require the Ohio Department of Education, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, to create an instructional program “regarding the humanity of the unborn child.”

The bill was recently amended to require every school district to implement this program as part of the science curriculum in grades 3-8 and in health curriculum for grades 9-12.

HB 90 circumvents Ohio’s process for adopting curriculum standards and would impose an instructional program that is based on a particular perspective of morality. Instead of the approach taken by the bill, OEA supports the creation of comprehensive health education standards that are developed by health educators and professionals.

You can read OEA’s full testimony by clicking here.

Click here to download a copy of this newsletter.

  • OEA Testifies on K-12 Portion of Budget Bill
  • OEA Testifies against Academic Distress Commission language in state budget bill (HB 166)
  • House Bill 154 (Rep. Joe Miller-D/Rep. Don Jones-R)
  • House Bill 127 (Rep. Kent Smith-D/Rep. Steve Hambley-R)

OEA Testifies on K-12 Portion of Budget Bill

OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro testified before House Finance Subcommittee on Primary & Secondary Education on Tuesday to present OEA’s views on school funding, academic distress commissions, and proposed policy changes regarding charter schools that have been offered by the Governor. The hearing was part of the deliberations on House Bill 166 that contains Governor DeWine’s budget proposals.

You can read more about our positions in OEA’s testimony that was given before the subcommittee.

Long-Awaited Bipartisan School Funding Plan Released

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This week, Representatives Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Ashtabula) released the Fair School Funding Plan that would provide an additional $400 million in FY 2020 for local public school districts. The plan represents more than 15 months of work by legislators, local school leaders, and education finance experts to craft meaningful alternatives to the current way in which Ohio funds its schools.

Under the plan, no school district would receive less funding than in FY 2019.

OEA believes Ohio’s current school funding formula is a patchwork of band aids that fails to provide adequate funding. It is not functional nor is it driven by what constitutes a high-quality education. This is evidenced by the fact that currently over 500 — or 80% — of Ohio’s school districts do not directly receive funding as calculated by the formula and are instead on a gain cap or funding guarantee.

The Fair School Funding Plan seeks to base decision-making on identifiable student needs and what it actually costs to provide a high-quality education. Those who crafted the plan believe it is fair, transparent, and easily understood. The proposal will end the use of gain caps and lessen the number of districts that rely on a funding guarantee.

Under the plan, no school district would receive less funding than in FY 2019. The projected phase-in of the plan is four years.

You may view the details of the Fair School Funding Plan and district-by-district simulations by https://www.ohea.org/bipartisan-school-funding/

OEA Working with Two Former Teachers to Repeal State Takeovers

House Bill 154 Gets First Hearing in House Education Committee on April 2

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Two former teachers now serving in the Ohio House of Representatives – Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) – have introduced bi-partisan legislation that would repeal the disastrous law that allows the state to takeover local school districts that are deemed to be in trouble. HB 154, which has 29 bi-partisan co-sponsors, would restore local control to school districts.

A strong push by OEA to get HB 154 introduced with broad bi-partisan support means this repeal bill is well-positioned to be approved by the Ohio House of Representatives. OEA members will be advocating for passage of HB 154 at the OEA Lobby Day in Columbus on April 9.

Reps. Joe Miller (D) and Don Jones (R) will urge their colleagues to repeal the failed state takeover law when they deliver bill sponsor testimony in the Ohio House Education Committee on April 2. Rep. Joe Miller represents Lorain City Schools, one of the three districts already taken over by the state (the other two are Youngstown and East Cleveland).

By repealing the state takeover law, the Miller/Jones bill would dissolve all existing Academic Distress Commissions and appointed CEOs. Local control would be returned to elected school boards. The collective bargaining restrictions in the state takeover law would be repealed.

State takeovers of local school districts are hurting students and the communities in which they live. When state officials and appointed managers are running local school districts, it lowers student and educator morale, undermines local engagement, and impedes progress.

State takeovers are based on misleading state report cards and excessive testing that severely penalize students in poverty. Instead of harmful state takeovers, HB 154 will require F-rated school buildings to develop school improvement plans that are locally designed and locally implemented.

 No more Academic Distress Commissions. No more CEOs. No more state takeovers.

Bi-Partisan Bill Introduced to Repeal Failed State Takeover Law and Restore Local Control

OEA Strongly Supports House Bill 154

Click here to download a copy of this newsletter.

Two former teachers now serving in the Ohio House of Representatives — Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) — have introduced bi-partisan legislation that would repeal the disastrous law that allows the state to takeover local school districts that are deemed to be in trouble.

HB 154, which has 29 bi-partisan co-sponsors, would restore local control to school districts. OEA strongly supports the bill.

State takeovers of local school districts are hurting students and the communities in which they live.

The Miller/Jones bill would also dissolve all existing Academic Distress Commissions and appointed CEOs.

Rep. Joe Miller represents Lorain City Schools, one of the three districts already taken over by the state (the other two are Youngstown and East Cleveland).

State takeovers of local school districts are hurting students and the communities in which they live. When state officials and appointed managers are running local school districts, it lowers student and educator morale, undermines local engagement, and impedes progress.

It is time to restore local control to elected school boards and superintendents that are accountable to the community. It is time to return collective bargaining rights and professional respect to the classroom teachers who understand the unique needs and challenges of their students.

State takeovers are based on misleading state report cards and excessive testing that

On Friday, March 15, 2019, Governor DeWine released his Executive Budget detailing his spending plans for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021. Below is a review of the governor’s proposals. Please note that there is little detail at this point as the actual budget language has yet to be released. We expect that the language in the form of a bill will be introduced later this week. OEA Government Relations staff will share additional information as it becomes available.

Click here to download a copy of this newsletter.

 

K-12 Education

School Funding
The governor’s proposed budget provides $550 million over the biennium to support at-risk students by providing wraparound services, mental health counseling, mentoring, and other means of addressing student needs. School districts will be encouraged to partner with local nonprofit service providers such as educational service centers, county mental health, addiction and job and family services’ agencies to provide the services.

Under the proposal, school districts will not see an automatic increase in general aid and are guaranteed to receive at least what they did this fiscal year. According to the administration, every district would be guaranteed a minimum of $25,000 in FY 2020 and $30,000 in FY 2021 from the new fund. Additional money would be distributed based on a district’s percentage of students in poverty. These amounts will range from $20 to $250 in FY 2020 and $25 to $300 in FY 2021.

Click this link to view the Student Wellness and Success Funding report, with district-by-district simulations. It is important to recognize that these figures are not final and will likely change during the budget process.

Charter Schools and Vouchers
The governor has proposed an additional $60 million over the biennium in per-pupil funding for charter schools that deemed a “school of quality.”

The proposal does not define what requirements are needed to earn that designation. The Ohio Department of Education will also receive an increase in funding for charter school oversight from $2.5 million in FY 2019 to $7 million in both FY 2020 and FY 2021. The proposal also increases the appropriation for the income-based EdChoice Voucher expansion from 47.7 million in FY 2019 to $57.2 million in FY 2020 and $71 million in FY 2021 in order to fund the addition of grades 6 and 7 to the program which was passed during the Kasich administration.

Additional Provisions

  • The proposal freezes ODE line items for school transportation funding, early childhood education and adult education at FY 2019 levels in both years of the biennium.
  • The proposal allocates $20 million for drug abuse prevention curriculum for Ohio’s children, including $2 million for educational service centers to provide professional development to teachers on drug abuse prevention education.
  • The budget provides an additional $60 million in federal funding to nutrition programs such as school lunch and breakfast programs.

 

Higher Education

State Share of Instruction
The proposal continues the performance-based funding formula and provides for a 1.1% increase in funding in FY 2020 over FY 2019 levels and a 1% increase in FY 2021 over FY 2020 levels.

Ohio College Opportunity Grant
The proposal increases funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grants that is projected to increase student awards by $400 in FY 2020 and $500 in FY 2021.

Choose Ohio First Scholarship
The proposal provides for a $24 million increase in funding over the biennium for the Choose Ohio First Scholarship. Ohio students who are majoring in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, STEM Education and Medicine may qualify for the scholarship.

Central State and Shawnee State Supplements
The budget maintains funding for these supplements at FY 2019 levels in both FY 2020 and FY 2021.

 

Developmental Disabilities

Overall Funding
The budget projects that state General Revenue Funding for FY 2020 will be $717.4 million (5.5% increase from FY 2019) and $719.1 million in FY 2021 (0.2% increase from FY 2020).

County Board Subsidies and County Board Case Management Line Items
Beginning in FY 2020, the budget proposal consolidates line items. The County Board Subsidies line item that provided funding to county boards to assist with the cost of services and administration and the County Board Case Management line item that provided direct support to county boards for case management services are now appropriated in the Medicaid Services line item. The Medicaid Services line item is increases by 11.9% in FY 2020 over FY 2019 levels. The proposal indicates that the increase in the Medicaid Services appropriation is not just as a result of the consolidation.

Employment First Initiative
The budget provides for a $2.7 million appropriation in each year of the biennium to support the Employment First Initiative.

 

State Council of Professional Educators (SCOPE)

Below are notable line items, as proposed by the Governor, for state agencies employing SCOPE members. The FY 2020 percentage change is based on FY 2019 figures; the FY 2021 percentage change is based on FY 2020 figures. The available budget information does not reveal major policy changes impacting SCOPE members in these state agencies.

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Institution Education Services   FY 2020 $33.6 million flat funded
    FY2021 $33.9 million 0.9% increase
Education Services   FY2020 $4.5 million  3.8% decrease
    FY2021 $4.6 million 2.5% increase
Prisoner Programs   FY2020 $400,000 63.0% decrease
    FY2021 $400,000 Flat funded
Grand Total DRC (All Line-Items)   FY2020 $1.9 billion 2.9% increase
    FY2021 $2.0 billion 3.6% increase

Department of Youth Services

RECLAIM Ohio   FY 2020 $171.7 million 7.3% increase
    FY2021 177.8 million 3.5% increase
Education Services   FY2020 $3.20 million 0.9% increase
    FY2021 $3.29 million 2.8% increase
Education   FY2020 $1 million 25.3% increase
    FY2021 $1.01 million 1.7% increase
Vocational Education   FY2020 $1.46 million 0.6% increase
    FY2021 $1.46 million flat funded
Grand Total DYS (All Line-Items)   FY2020 $238.4 million 3.7% increase
    FY2021 $247.5 million
3.8% increase

School for the Deaf

Grand Total  for the Deaf (All Line Items)   FY2020 $13.9 million 12.7% increase
    FY2021 $14.5 million 3.7% increase

School for the Blind

Grand Total for the Blind (All Line Items)   FY2020 $14.1 million 13% increase
    FY2021 $14.5 million 1.0% increase

State Library Board

Grand Total for the Library Board (All Line Items)   FY2020 $21.9 million flat funded
    FY2021 $121.9 million flat funded

2018 | 132nd Ohio General Assembly

December 7, 2018

OEA Legislative WatchLegislature Votes to Extend Alternative Graduation Pathways

The Ohio House and Senate have approved a bill (HB 491) to extend the alternative graduation pathways to the classes of 2019 and 2020. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 29-0 and the House concurred by a vote of 78-1.

Under current law, in addition to successfully completing required coursework, students are required to meet one of three graduation “pathways” each of which is dependent on the results of high-stakes testing.

OEA strongly supports the extension of the alternative pathways and applauds this action.

For the class of 2018, the legislature provided alternative graduation pathways that would provide students with additional options such as completion of a capstone project, work experience, and grade-point average.

[ For more information on Ohio Department of Education graduation requirements and the alternative pathways, click here. ]

The Ohio Department of Education estimated that 33,000 seniors were at risk of not graduating without action to extend the alternative graduation pathways. HB 491 extends the alternative pathways to the class of 2019 with no changes.

There are some adjustments for the Class of 2020 which include: a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 for courses completed during the junior and senior year; the capstone project must comply with guidance developed by ODE and each project should be designed as a culmination of the student’s high school experience; the work or community service shall comply with guidance from ODE on school approval and verification of the work.

ODE guidance for the Class of 2020 must be completed by May 31, 2019. The bill still needs to be signed by Governor Kasich.

Senate Passes Bill to Restore OPERS Credit for DD Employees

On Thursday, December 6, 2018, the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 572 by a vote of 29-0.

The bill addresses the issue of service credit for non-teaching employees of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities who work on a school calendar rather than year-round.

Recent OPERS action had reduced service credit for these employees and the bill would restore a full-year service credit. The bill is jointly sponsored by Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Stephanie Howse (D- Cleveland).

OEA strongly supports this bill as this legislation is desperately needed to address this issue for these public employees. OEA testified in support of the bill and several OEA members also submitted written testimony advocating for its passage.

The bill would require OPERS to grant a full year of service credit to employees who meet the following conditions:

  • Are employed by a County Board of DD;
  • Work in a position that would be covered by the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) if they were employed by a school district; and,
  • Perform full-time service for at least nine months of the year and paid earnable salary in each month of that year. Language in the bill specifies that this applies the dating back to January 1, 2017.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, the House will have to vote to agree with Senate amendments. That vote is expected next week and then HB 572 will head to Governor Kasich to be signed into law.

HJR 19 Stalls in House Committee

House Joint Resolution 19 is a proposed Constitutional amendment that would make it more difficult to pass amendments to the Ohio Constitution through the initiative process.

The proposal was met with sharp criticism as an attack on direct democracy.

OEA joined more than 90 groups that voiced opposition to the plan and the efforts to rush it through a lame duck session.

The resolution has received four hearings in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee but has not been voted out.

HJR 19 proposes changes to the process for passing an initiated constitutional amendment and for a proposed statute.

Specifically, for an initiated constitutional amendment, it would increase the percentage required for voters to approve an amendment to 60%, specify that signatures on a petition are valid for 180 days and set a submission deadline of April 1.

For initiated statute proposals, HJR 19 would modify the signature requirement to 5% of electors based on the most recent vote for Governor while removing the requirement for a supplemental petition to be filed in order to place an initiated statute on the ballot if the General Assembly amends the statute or does not act.

Further, HJR 19 would prohibit the General Assembly from amending or repealing an initiated statute for one year.

To be enacted, HJR 19 would need to clear both chambers by a three-fifths majority and then be approved by voters as a constitutional amendment.

It does not appear that the legislature will move this proposal in the lame duck session. However, this is likely to be an ongoing issue next session.

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June 29, 2018

ohio-statehouse-sqGeneral Assembly Approves HB 21 – Protects School Districts with Stronger Residency Verification for Charter Students

The Ohio Senate last month passed HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick), by a vote of 32-0. The measure, which is strongly supported by OEA, was approved last December by the Ohio House, 94-0. The governor is expected to sign the bill.

  • It helps protect school districts from erroneous charter school deductions. Charter schools and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will take more responsibility for verifying the school district in which a charter student lives. School districts would continue to have the ability to review and challenge charter school student residency claims.
  • It seeks to solve problems with the Education Management Information System (EMIS) by requiring ODE to establish an EMIS advisory council. The council shall make recommendations to the superintendent of public instruction to improve the operation of EMIS and shall provide a forum for communication and collaboration between ODE and parties affected by the collection, reporting, and use of the system’s data. Members of the council shall include department staff and representatives of school districts and other entities that regularly interact with EMIS.

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May 21, 2018
•  Ohio SB 246 — Changes to Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions for Ohio’s Youngest Learners — Passes
•  HB 200 — Vouchers —  Scheduled for a Possible Committee Vote
•  HB 54 — OEA Supported OTES Reform — Scheduled for a Possible Committee Vote
•  HB 87 – Local School Districts Stand to Recover Funds Lost to Troubled Charter Schools
•  HB 21 – Stronger Residency Verification for Charter Students will Protect Districts from Erroneous Per-Pupil Deductions
•  HB 591 – OEA Supports School Report Card Reforms

April 23, 2018
OEA Supports Bill to Fix OPERS Service Credit for County Board Employees; HB 540: OEA Members Testify in Support of OTES Reform Legislation; HB 591: OEA Supports School Report Card Reforms

March 26, 2018
House Bill 540 – OTES Reform Bill Receives Sponsor Testimony from Rep. Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Manning (R-North Ridgeville); Senate Bill 216 Passed by Ohio Senate; Heads to Houses for Further Consideration

March 12, 2018
Senate Bill 246 Seeks Changes to Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions for Ohio’s Youngest Learners; OEA Testifies in Opposition to Education Consolidation Bill; SB 216 – OTES Reform Long-Sought by OEA Passes Senate Education Committee; HB 98 – Senate Education Committee Passes Bill to Provide Students More Information About Careers in the Skilled Trades; Other Education Amendments Included; Local School Districts Stand to Recover Money Lost to Troubled Charter Schools with the House Passage of HB 87

March 2, 2018
Kasich Administration Voices Support for Education Consolidation; Senate Bill 216 – Public School “Deregulation Act” Continues to Receive Hearings; School District Report Card Reform Discussions Unfold

February 16, 2018
Legislation Introduced to Consolidate Education Departments

February 9, 2018
OEA Supports Teacher Evaluation Reforms in Senate Bill 240; OEA Opposes Senate Bill 216 – Public School “Deregulation”, Ohio General Assembly Passes Bi-Partisan Congressional Redistricting Plan