After our Professional Development on Friday, I had the opportunity to welcome Senator Gayle Manning and Representative Nathan Manning to Elyria High School in order to meet with my wife and I for a discussion of education. We had initially scheduled this meeting to discuss the Youngstown Amendment to HB 70 which takes effect October 15, and seems to be a piece of the end game of turning discredited public schools into charters through the appointment of a CEO. While this doesn't present us with immediate concern here in Elyria, Lorain would be the next district after Youngstown slated for take-over.
Senator Manning indicated that she and others were working on a legislative solution that would seemingly set Youngstown up as a pilot program to be studied. Unfortunately, this does little for Youngstown, but would seem to create a situation that buys Lorain more time. My wife and I indicated that we were aware that Senator Joe Schiavoni is also crafting legislation as a remedy, and Senator Manning indicated that she would initiate contact with her fellow Senator. For what it's worth, there are also a few lawsuits, and a request for an injunction to prevent the introduction of the plan.
We also spent some time discussing HB2, the bill that would begin to regulate the state's charter schools. The bill has passed the Senate and stalled in the House just before their recess. Both the Mannings are supportive of the current bill, but indicated that it would likely undergo further changes in the House before another vote. We indicated our overall support for the bill as "a beginning" in the overall regulation of Ohio's charters.
I would have been remiss had I not mentioned standardized testing. I reiterated my thanks for eliminating PARCC, while indicating that AIR has had its own issues with misleading and ambiguous questions. I thanked them for the move to a single testing window, while assuring them that we still assess far too much in Ohio K-12, that the 3rd grade guarantee is atrocious, our testing of Special Education students abominable, and the use of the VAM or any standardized testing in the evaluation of teachers was essentially meaningless.
By and large, the Mannings were receptive to our input. They were also very complimentary about what we do here in Elyria. I got the idea that they see us as an example of how public education can work in urban areas with diverse populations. We have done what is right for our students, and done well to promote our achievements. Be proud of your efforts.
Also, do not discount the power of your own voice. When a bill comes around regarding the Youngstown Amendment, or HB2 comes to a vote in the House, let your (and all) legislators know how you feel.
Thanks to Mr. Brown for letting us meet here at E-High. It gave me an opportunity to talk up our facility, programs, and students. If anyone has any questions about the meeting or otherwise, please let me know.
Yours in education.
Social Studies Dept.