December 7, 2022

Jeanne Melvin: Ohio lawmakers will ‘circumvent the will of the people’ with school board bill

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Jeanne Melvin is a retired teacher in Ohio and a founding member of Public Education Partners. In a recent guest editorial, she speaks out against an attempt by Ohio’s legislature to strip their elected state education board of power.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman wants to remove most of the education duties from the school board and put them in the governor’s office, according to a recent article by Anna Staver, a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau which serves the Columbus Dispatch and 21 other affiliated newspapers.

Staver wrote:

“Senate Bill 178 would strip everything except teacher licensing, hearing cases about staff conduct and decisions on school territory transfers from the Ohio State Board of Education. The makeup of the 19-member board wouldn’t change, and it would still pick a state superintendent. But the board’s educational responsibilities would be moved to a new cabinet position in the governor’s office.

America’s representative democracy is the best way for Ohioans to address accountability and oversight of our government leaders to make sure they promote sound education policies that follow the will of the people and not the interests of education profiteers.

To give power over the state’s education system to the governor’s office would be a huge injection of politics into public schools.

What a travesty that Senate Bill 178 will incapacitate the state board’s authority and award it to cabinet members most likely appointed by political favor.

If the perceived notion by legislators is that the board of education is now dysfunctional, perhaps Ohio needs to return to an all-elected state school board using district maps that are not politically gerrymandered.

Ohio politicians must not circumvent the will of the people with this fast-moving piece of legislation.

Read the full op-ed here.

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