Ohio public schools have made some improvements during the past several years – but still are lacking in some important measurements of education quality. We hope a new cabinet-level post created by Gov. John Kasich can help address some of the deficiencies.
Kasich has named Robert Sommers as director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education. Sommers has an extensive background in schools, including work with a charter school and in career and technical education.
It is unknown just how much authority Sommers will have. Ohio, like many other states, uses a state board of education to manage public education. It has been pointed out that with five members appointed recently by Kasich, the 19-member board is dominated by his Republican Party.
Our experience with boards of education at both the local and state levels is that party affiliation is not a controlling factor, however, so it cannot be predicted that the board will serve merely as a rubber stamp for Kasich and Sommers. Philosophies about education tend to transcend party labels.
Standardized tests – the results of which have to be used with caution – show some improvements in Ohio public schools during the past several years. They also show that in some respects, the quality of education has remained stagnant – or even decreased.
For example, standardized tests used to determine whether students can graduate from high school have shown decidedly mixed results. During the 2005-06 school year, 93.7 percent of 11th graders in public schools passed the reading portion of the test. Only 91.6 percent of those who took it during the 2009-10 school year passed.
In a related statistic, the state showed a high school graduation rate of 85.9 percent five years ago. It climbed to 86.9 percent for the 2007-08 school year, before dropping to 83 percent for 2009-10.
Clearly, school reform needs to be an ongoing priority – not just a “process” – in the Buckeye State. We encourage Sommers and Kasich to approach it that way.
SOURCE: Wheeling Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/551887/Make-School-Reform-Priority.html?nav=511