Huffman sponsors education bill

By Josh Ellerbrock -

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State Senate has unanimously passed an education bill sponsored by State Sen. Matt Huffman created to deregulate aspects of Ohio’s education system.

Senate Bill 216, known as the Ohio Public School Deregulation Act, changes parts of Ohio’s Revised Code dealing with teacher licensure, evaluation systems, testing, student management, college credit plus and preschool operating standards.

The development of the bill began when local superintendents talked to Huffman about how laws and mandates were limiting how schools operated, which had some negative effects on students. For example, Waynesfield-Goshen Superintendent Chris Pfister related how one law required elementary students to take a reading test on a computer, and because of technical problems, Pfister had one boy distraught and concerned about being held back.

“He’s thinking he’s not going to fourth grade and crying for 20 minutes. Do we want to test reading and writing or what people know about technology?” Pfister said.

With Huffman’s support, Pfister formed a steering committee with superintendents from Auglaize and Mercer counties to draft an early bill, and as talks continued, they brought together the 42 superintendents within Huffman’s Senate district for a four-hour meeting to hash out the details. The end result was a 19-provision bill authored by Huffman created to reduce some of the burden of Ohio’s educational mandates.

After introduction to the Senate, the bill held seven different hearings where an estimated 150 individuals spoke about the bill. By the time every voice was heard, the Senate was ready to pass the bill 32-0.

“All too often what sounds like a good idea in Columbus translates instead to burdensome paperwork and tedious tasks that distract teachers and superintendents from their primary role in our schools—educating students,” Huffman said in a press release concerning the bill.

Due to aspects of the bill that allows teachers to teach subjects they are unlicensed for, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) is opposed to the bill. The teacher’s union, however, does support other aspects that change how students are tested and teachers are evaluated.

The bill also throws out Ohio’s current Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and defines how the change affects early elementary reading assessments.

“We’re here to focus on teaching and student learning. The students are why we are here,” Pfister said. “Let’s dedicate the most time letting students grow and learn and be successful.”

The bill now heads to Ohio’s House of Representatives for further consideration.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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