Protect Collective Bargaining and Local Control

Image: Collective Bargaining

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.

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).