After charter and voucher hawks snuck 11th hour amendments into legislation meant to address the substitute teacher shortage in Ohio’s public schools, Governor Mike DeWine had the opportunity to do the right thing and line-item veto those ridiculous changes. Unfortunately, Governor DeWine failed to act, and by signing House Bill 583 on Friday as presented to him, he has once again put the interests of the lobbyists clamoring for ever more money to be diverted to private and charter schools over the wellbeing of the 90 percent of Ohio children who attend public schools and Ohio’s taxpayers.
“The bill should have never made it to the governor’s desk with all of these sweetheart deals for underperforming charter school sponsors and wealthy families trying to create loopholes to have their children’s private school tuition funded by public dollars,” said Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Scott DiMauro. “The lawmakers who rammed those deals through took a bill that was meant to help Ohio’s public schools meet the challenges of this moment by giving them a tool to address staff shortages in the short term and created legislation that will hurt Ohio’s public schools instead.”
The version of House Bill 583 that originally passed in the Ohio House on March 30, 2022, was proposed to address that state’s substitute teacher shortage by increasing flexibility for districts to hire subs. Substitutes are typically required to have a four-year degree, but during the pandemic, the state legislature passed a temporary measure allowing anyone 18 or older with a high school diploma to seek a substitute teacher’s license. HB 583 extends that measure for another two years.
Unfortunately, some charter school interests, many of whom are for-profit entities, convinced legislators to add several controversial charter and voucher amendments during the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee on May 24, and that was the version of the bill that was ultimately sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
One amendment weakens the accountability of charter school sponsors by prohibiting the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) from assigning an overall sponsor rating of “ineffective” if the sponsor scored zero points on only one of the three evaluation criteria: academic performance, adherence to quality practices, and compliance with laws and administrative rules. “Previously, failing in any of those categories was enough to warrant an ‘ineffective’ rating. Now, under the newly signed legislation, the charter sponsors have to be extraordinarily subpar in multiple categories to raise a red flag. That’s wrong,” DiMauro said.
Another amendment funnels more tax dollars from Ohio’s public schools to wealthy families who could comfortably afford to send their children to private schools on their own. HB 583, as signed, allows just about any family who ever qualified for income-based vouchers to continue reaping the rewards of those tax dollars even when their financial situation dramatically improves.
“The governor knows these are bad deals for Ohio’s taxpayers, Ohio’s communities, and Ohio’s public schools. He signed the legislation anyway,” DiMauro said. “Shame on him.”