1) Ohio News
- 130th General Assembly Not Over Yet! The Ohio Senate was expected to adjourn sine die last week, but last minute legislative activity compelled Senate President Keith Faber to keep open the option of bringing Senators together to address issues that might come up this week.
The Ohio House has scheduled a session on December 17, 2014 to consider several bills, including House Joint Resolution 12 (Huffman) a constitutional amendment to change redistricting, and HB367 (Driehaus/Sprague), which is a “catch all” bill cleaning up and clarifying education policies.
More details on the status of education related legislation are included below.
- Senate Approves Redistricting Bill/House Needs to Concur: The Ohio Senate approved on December 10, 2014 amended House Joint Resolution 12 (Huffman), a bipartisan proposed constitutional amendment to change how maps are drawn for the Ohio House and Senate every ten years after the census. The proposal does not address congressional districts.
The resolution was approved by the Ohio House last week, but then the Ohio Senate made substantial changes, resulting in the need for the House to concur with the Senate version of the joint resolution. That is expected to happen on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. Voters would need to approve the constitutional amendment on the November 3, 2015 ballot for it to go into effect on January 1, 2021.
HJR12 would replace the Apportionment Board with a seven member Ohio Redistricting Commission to create legislative districts for the Ohio House and Senate. The commission includes the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and four legislative appointees, including two minority members. The measure specifies new constitutional standards for drawing legislative districts, what would happen if the commission comes to an impasse, and specifies the actions that must be taken if a court finds that the maps do not meet the constitutional standards.
New redistricting maps would require the support of the two minority members to take effect for ten years. If the minority members didn’t approve, then an “impasse procedure” would go into effect, the maps would be temporarily implemented, and a reconstituted commission would meet again and draw-up maps based on stricter standards.
See an analysis of HJR12 at http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/analyses130/hjr0012-rs-130.pdf
- Community Connectors Now Requires Religious Partners:An article by Patrick O’Donnell in the Cleveland Plain Dealer describes how the new state mentorship program called Community Connectors, with $10 million available for grants, requires school districts and charter schools to partner with both a business (or nonprofit established by a business) and a faith-based organization, in order to receive a grant. The requirement is not included in the law (HB483) that authorizes the program.
The purpose of the program is to bring together schools, parents, communities, faith-based organizations, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to mentor students and help them succeed.
According to the article, Governor Kasich, who proposed the mentorship program in the first place, supports the requirement that schools partner with a faith-based organization, because they play an important role in the lives of young people. The article goes on to say, however, that the faith-based requirement was not discussed as the law was going through the legislative process, and was not mentioned by the governor, Superintendent Ross, or Ohio Department of Education staff, until informational meetings were held about the grant application process last week.
See “Schools need a religious partner if they want any of Gov. Kasich’s student mentorship plan” by Patrick O’Donnell, Plain Dealer, December 12, 2014 at
- Governor’s Inauguration Set for January 12, 2014: “A New Day Committee” led by Doug Preisse, announced last week a schedule of events that will be held to initiate the second term of Governor Kasich and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor.
Celebrations will start with A Family Day at the Ohio Statehouse, which will be held on Saturday, January 10, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. This event will feature family friendly entertainment, food, and games, and will be open to the public.
The governor and lieutenant governor will be officially sworn into office at midnight, Monday, January 12, 2015 in the Ohio Senate Chamber. The inauguration will take place at 11:30 AM at the Southern Theater. Tickets for the public to attend this event will be available through a lottery at http://www.NewDayOhio.com. The deadline to enter the lottery is Wednesday, December 31, 2014.
The Inaugural Gala, by invitation only, will be held at the Hilton Columbus Downtown at 8:00 PM on January 12, 2015.
See “John Kasich inauguration events to include family activities as well as ceremony” by Robert Higgs, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 8, 2014 at
- State Board Moves Closer to Revising Operating Standards: The State Board of Education, Debe Terhar president, approved on December 9, 2014 by a vote of 14-5 an “Intent to Adopt Resolution” to revise Administrative Code Rules 3301-35-01 through 10 entitled Standards for School Districts and Schools Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade, also known as “operating standards”.
The intent to adopt resolution starts the formal approval process to add, change, or rescind administrative code rules. The process includes a hearing and approval by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), approval by the Common Sense Review Commission, a public hearing conducted by the State Board of Education, and State Board approval of an adopt resolution. The State Board expects to consider a final “adopt resolution” in February or March 2015.
Before approving the resolution, the State Board debated several amendments, including amendments to change proposed rules 3301-35-05(A)(3) Educational Service Personnel and 3301-35-01(B)(13) Definitions, Educational Service Personnel. These rules, also known as the “five of eight rule”, had been revised by the Operating Standards Committee, chaired by Ron Rudduck, in April 2014, but stakeholder groups raised concerns about the changes, and requested in September and November that the committee and the State Board of Education restore the current rules.
Stakeholders included those areas affected by the proposed rule, including the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education; the Ohio Music Education Association; Ohio Art Education Association; the Ohio Education Association; the Ohio Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; the Ohio Educational Library Media Association; the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; the Ohio School Counselor’s Association; and the Ohio Association of School Nurses.
The revised rule 3301-35-05(A)(3) eliminated the requirement that boards of education employ five educational service personnel per 1,000 students in five of eight areas (school nurse, social worker, counselor, visiting teacher, and elementary art, music, and physical education), and revised rule 3301-35-01 (B)(13) expanded the number of areas defined as educational service personnel to include positions that did not require a license to teach.
Parents, educators, and representatives of stakeholder groups addressed the State Board on December 8, 2014 during public participation, and told the State Board that the revised rules for educational service personnel did not provide an adequate incentive or directive for school districts to employ educational service personnel to support student learning; the revised definition section included a variety of positions, many of which did not require the employment of licensed teachers; and there was no mechanism to monitor the implementation of the rule to provide accountability and improve transparency. Stakeholders requested that the State Board reinstate the five of eight rule.
State Board members offered amendments to restore the current rule and delay the State Board taking action on the revised rules, but these amendments failed.
An amendment developed by State Board members Ron Rudduck and Mike Collins was also introduced, and after debate, was approved by the State Board. The amendment was developed with the input of stakeholders, including the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, and included the following changes in the revised rule:
-Directs boards of education to employ educational service personnel, but does not include a specific number or areas.
-Requires that educational service personnel in the areas of fine arts, music, and physical education, hold the multi-age license for the subjects they are teaching.
-Directs the State Board of Education’s Accountability Committee to develop a method to report on the state report card the total number of educational service personnel employed in each area by district, school, and state and per 1000 or less students.
A more detailed report of the December 2014 State Board of Education Meeting will be prepared when the tapes of the December meeting are made available on the Ohio Department of Education website.
2) Legislative Update: The Ohio Senate has not formally adjourned sine die, but is not expected to take further action on legislation this session.
The Ohio House still has a session scheduled for December 17, 2014, which means it can still take action on several bills before adjourning, and is likely to concur with HJR12 (Huffman) Redistricting and Sub. HB367 (Driehaus/Sprague), which now includes some provisions of HB343 (Stebelton).
Last week the House and Senate education committees added to the general confusion of a lame duck session by substituting bills into other bills, and then amending them again on the House and Senate floors. The following is the status of a few of the education bills going into this last week of the 130th General Assembly:
- HB113 (Antonio) Physical Education: The bill grants a waiver from the high school physical education course requirement to students who are participating in a school-sponsored athletic club in either school districts or chartered nonpublic schools. The bill passed the Ohio House on November 29, 2014. It was then considered by the Senate Education Committee and amended on December 10, 2014 to require students, who seek the waiver, to demonstrate competency in the physical education standards in current law. The Senate Education Committee reported out the bill on December 11, 2014.
- HB178 (Phillips) School Safety Drills. The original bill updated the number and types of safety drills required for schools, and passed the House on March 19, 2014. The Senate Education Committee held its first hearing on the bill on November 11, 2014. The bill was amended by the Senate Education Committee to include $209,000 for the Old Fort Local School District for costs related to the merger with the Bettsville Local School District; permits students participating in the Cleveland Scholarship Program to attend a private school in a school district adjacent to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District; and now includes SB266, which requires charter schools to comply with restraint and seclusion rules. The House now needs to concur with these changes.
- HB228 (Brenner/Gonzales) Limits on Student Testing: The Ohio House approved this bill on November 20, 2014, but the Senate did not take action on it. According to the Hannah Report, Senate Education Committee chair, Senator Peggy Lehner, believes that more discussion is needed about changing the state’s testing program, requirements, and schedule. Senate President Keith Faber has agreed to convene a task force, which will include members of the House and Senate and educators, to review a report about Ohio’s testing program being prepared by Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross, and due to legislators in January 2015.
- HB290 (Stebelton) School Premises Liability: Grants school districts immunity from civil liability when the public uses school district premises. This bill was approved by the Ohio House on May 14, 2014, and amended by the Senate and approved on December 11, 2014.
- HB367 (Driehaus/Sprague) Opioid Abuse Prevention Instruction-Schools: Requires the health curriculum of each school district to include instruction in prescription opioid abuse prevention. This bill was amended by the Senate Education Committee to include some provisions of HB343 (Stebelton), which is a bill that includes a number of changes in law requested by the Ohio Department of Education. The bill also was amended to include SB96, world history requirement, and allows nonpublic charter school students to temporarily be exempt from taking end of course exams to quality for a diploma. The Senate approved the bill on December 12, 2014. The House now must concur with the changes in the bill.
- HB460 (Brenner/Driehaus) Community Learning Process Restructuring. The House approved this bill on December 2, 2014. The Senate Education Committee received testimony on the bill on December 10, 2014, and amended the bill. The Senate Education Committee reported out the bill on December 11, 2014.
- SB42 (Manning/Gardner) Property Taxes for School Security. The original bill authorizes school districts to levy a property tax for school safety and security purposes. The House added changes in Ohio’s pension system to the bill. The Senate concurred with the House amendments on December 11, 2014.
- SB84 (Kearney) Poet Laureate: Creates the position of Ohio Poet Laureate. The bill authorizes the Ohio Arts Council to provide the governor with up to three nominations to select a state poet laureate, who would serve in that position for two years starting in 2016. The duties of the poet laureate would be determined by the Ohio Arts Council, which would administer the program. The House approved the bill on December 9, 2014, and the Senate concurred with the House amendments on December 10, 2014.
- Sub. SB96 (LaRose) World History Requirement: Requires one half unit of world history in the high school social studies curriculum, and includes an amendment added by the House Education Committee to include HB343 (Stebelton). The House approved this bill on December 10, 2014, but the Senate, which would have to concur with the House changes, opted to amend another bill already approved by the House, HB367 (Dreihaus/Sprague) Opioid Abuse Prevention Instruction-Schools. The Senate would need to concur with the House changes, but the Senate has informally adjourned.
3) National News
- Federal Appropriations Bill Approved/Government Shutdown Averted: The U.S. House and Senate approved an omnibus $1.1 trillion appropriations bill that funds federal agencies and departments through September 30, 2015, and President Obama has said that he will sign it.
The bill, dubbed “CRomnibus” (Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 – H.R. 83), was approved by the U.S. House on December 11, 2014 and by the U.S. Senate on December 13, 2014 after weeks of intense lobbying.
According to Lauren Camera at Education Week, appropriations for the U.S. Department of Education’s will decrease by $133 million to $70.5 billion, and the budgets for Title 1 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are still going to be below the pre-sequester levels.
In terms of policy changes, the bill relaxes federal requirements for the school lunch program, Turnaround School models, and Race to the Top. The bill allows states to grant an exemption from the whole grain requirement in the new school nutrition standards, which are supported by the Obama administration and have been a priority of First Lady Michelle Obama. The bill also allows schools to have more flexibility when selecting a turnaround school model, and doesn’t require schools to implement one of the four models approved by the U.S. Department of Education. And, there are no federal funds for Race to the Top, which was a $4.3 billion program when it started in 2009, or the Common Core State Standards.
The following is a summary of some of the funding levels in H.R. 83 based on information provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Committee.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
- Early Childhood Education and Care – Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – $17.8 billion, an increase of $108 million. This program also includes funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant Program – $2.4 billion, an increase of $75 million to support health and safety programs.
- Head Start – $8.6 billion, which includes Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
- Preschool Development Grants – $250 million. “The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) awards the $250 to states through grants designed to help states initiate or implement high-quality public preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. The funding in this bill will support the second year of what is expected to be four year awards.”
MEETING STUDENT NEEDS
- Unaccompanied immigrant children in 2014-15 school year – $14 million to support schools that have experienced a significant increase in the number of immigrant students.
- YouthBuild – $79.6 million, an increase of $2.1 million.
- Pell Grants – The maximum Pell Grant award is increased to $5,830, and will be funded by a combination of discretionary and mandatory funds.
- TRIO (Programs to help disadvantaged students access college) – $840 million, including an increase of $1.5 million to help low- income and first generation college students.
ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
- Title 1 – $14.4 billion, an increase of $25 million
- Special Education – $11.5 billion, an increase of $25 million
- Investing in Innovation – $141 million, a decrease of $21.6 million
- Teacher Incentive Fund – $230 million, a decrease of $59 million
- School Improvement Grant Program – $506 million
- The Office of Civil Rights – $100 million, including an increase of $1.6 million
- School Safety – $75 million
- National Endowment for the Arts – $146 million
- National Endowment for the Humanities – $146 million
- Smithsonian Institution – $819.5 million for Smithsonian Institution programs and facilities construction, a total of $14.5 million more than the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
- National Museum of African American History and Culture – $24 million to complete the federal funding commitment for construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.
- Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars – $10.5 million.
See “Spending Bill Would Fund Preschool Grants, But Not Race to the Top”, by Lauren Camera, Education Week, December 10, 2014 at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/12/congress_funds_education_progr.html
See “Summary: Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Senate Committee on Appropriations, December 9, 2014 at http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/12_10_14%20fy15%20omnibus%20summary.pdf
See “FY 2015 Omnibus – Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations”, House Appropriations Committee, December 2014 at
- Early Learning Campaign: The White House unveiled last week a new campaign to strengthen early childhood education, and a $1 billion public/private investment to initiate the campaign. The campaign is being led by Invest in US, which is the advocacy group for First Five Years Fund. The campaign was announced at a White House Summit held on December 10, 2014 hosted by President Barack Obama. The campaign seeks to involve business community, advocates, philanthropists and policy makers to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Private companies participating in the campaign include Disney and LEGO.
The campaign includes:
-Over $330 million from corporate and philanthropic leaders to expand and improve the quality of early education programs.
-Up to $750 million in new federal grant awards to support early learning for over 63,000 additional children across the country.
-The launch of Invest in US, a new initiative created by the First Five Years Fund, a bipartisan non-profit organization, in partnership with private philanthropic leaders.
-New private and philanthropic resources and support for Early Learning Communities, an initiative of Invest in US.
- Tennessee Relaxes VAM Requirements: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced on December 9, 2014 that he will support temporarily lowering the percent of a teacher’s evaluation that is based on student test scores from 35 to 10 percent, and give teachers more say in how state tests are designed. The proposals are based on conversations that the governor has had with teachers in regional meetings and at an education summit held in September. Some of the proposals will require legislative action, which will be introduced in January 2015.
The governor and state education officials have come under fire from teachers who say that the assessments are not aligned to the standards, and do not believe it is fair to judge teachers based on the assessments. The Tennessee Education Association has filed two lawsuits challenging the state’s teacher evaluation rules, and opposes using value added measures in teacher evaluations.
See “Tennessee Governor Bill Haslan Outlines Initiatives to Support Teachers”, the Clarksville Online, December 12, 2014 at http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2014/12/12/tennessee-governor-bill-haslam-outlines-initiatives-support-teachers/
- OCR Investigating NY State for School Funding Discrepancies: Lauren Camera at Education Week writes that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating the New York State Department of Education and the New York State Board of Regents to see if districts with large numbers of African American and Hispanic students received less state funding than predominately white districts. This is the first time that the OCR has conducted a civil rights investigation related to school funding.
The article notes that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a guidance document in October 2014 outlining the responsibilities of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to investigate complaints about funding disparities between poor and minority students. The OCR is investigating two complaints filed by the superintendents in the Schenectady and Middletown school districts in New York. The superintendents allege that the New York State school funding system discriminates against predominately non-white student populations, English-language learners, and students with disabilities.
See “Ed. Dept. Office for Civil Rights Probing New York Funding Discrepancy” by Lauren Camera, Education Week, December 8, 2014 at
- Commentaries About Arts Education: Education Week is featuring a segment entitled Inspired Learning: Commentaries on Arts Education. This special commentary package provides educators and advocates the opportunity to discuss the role of arts education in K-12 learning. According to Education Week “Some of the contributors assert that the arts are a bridge between traditional academic subjects and the creative skills necessary to thrive in a global, 21st-century economy. Others argue for the critical part the arts play in child development. Regular contributing artists illustrate the package, which continues online with a video that explores the role of the arts in classroom engagement.”
This special segment is supported by the Wallace Foundation. The segment includes the following articles:
–Understanding the Mind of a Young Artist, by Jeff Dekal
–STEM + Art: A Brilliant Combination, by John Ceschini, who examines how to interweave the arts and sciences curricula to build student competencies across subject areas
–The Power of Poetry in the Classroom, by Kip Zegers
–Arts Education Matters: We Know, We Measured It, by Jay P.Green
-Art, for Children’s Sake, by Jean Hendrickson
The commentaries are available at http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/inspired-learning/commentaries-on-arts-education.html.
This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities. The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (www.omea-ohio.org), Ohio Art Education Association (www.oaea.org), Ohio Educational Theatre Association (www.ohedta.org); OhioDance (www.ohiodance.org), and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (www.oaae.net).