COLUMBUS — About 500 superintendents and other school personnel and educational leaders throughout Ohio gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Columbus on Tuesday to speak about concerns with the direction of public education in the state.
The Ohio School Boards Association offered shuttle service for school officials attending its convention to the statehouse. Among those attending were Lima City Superintendent Jill Ackerman and Elida Local Superintendent Joel Mengerink. Superintendents representing different parts of the state addressed the crowd as they addressed current concerns with statewide educational policies.
“Hopefully, they are listening,” Mengerink said. “We are not just addressing this for the school districts themselves. We are addressing it for the students.”
The rally addressed several concerns, including the current high school graduation point system, standardized tests and legislation that creates mandates on the school districts. The Ohio School Board was in session during the rally. Ackerman said that allowing local school districts to be involved in discussing legislation before passing laws is key to a better application or rules.
“We believe that local school districts should be able to come to the table and have a say rather than Band-Aid solutions being handed down,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said school officials rallying in a unified manner is having an effect. She pointed to the Every Student Succeeds Act changes as proof.
“When local groups spoke up, legislators stepped up and listened,” Ackerman said. “I believe there is a willingness.”
Concerns with the graduation point system include that some students are taking state-mandated tests and not passing, putting them behind and in remediation. A score on a single state-mandated exam carries more weight that 180 days of classroom instruction. The result is an expected downfall in potential seniors graduating in 2018.
“We are looking at large class of juniors that if they didn’t pass last year, they are already behind,” Ackerman said.
Mengerink said school officials are ready to be involved.
“We are willing to work with them,” Mengerink said. “They need to be willing to work with us, and we prefer working with them in advance of legislation being done.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @LanceMihm.