LEGISLATIVE UPDATE SEPTEMBER 23, 2017

National News

FY18 Appropriations and More: The U.S. House and Senate returned to Washington D.C. in early September and surprisingly passed legislation (H.R. 601), that included $15.3 billion for Harvey relief; extended the national debt limit; and funded government agencies through December 8, 2017. President Trump signed the resolution into law on September 8, 2017.

H.R.601 continues current FY17 funding levels for federal agencies and departments, and avoids a government shut-down on October 1, 2017, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

H.R.601 also gives Congress more time to continue to work on several appropriation measures that have been moving through Senate committees, and H.R. 3354, a House resolution that combines 12 appropriations measures. The House approved H.R. 3354 on September 14, 2017.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Roy Blunt, and the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Shelby approved S1771 on September 7, 2017. This bill includes FY18 appropriations of $164.1 billion in discretionary funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

The Senate committees ignored the spending cuts ($27 billion) proposed in the Trump administration’s appropriations package, and even added $3 billion more than FY17 levels. The bill also makes program changes that will save approximately $800 million.

The House approved on September 13, 2017 the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act (HR3354), a resolution that consolidates 8 of the 12 House appropriations measures with HR3219, which includes the four remaining appropriations resolutions. The consolidated resolution includes appropriations for the departments of the Interior, which funds the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Education, and Related Agencies, which includes libraries and museums.

Both the House and Senate appropriation measures curb the Trump administrations efforts to expand school choice programs. While the Senate increases spending for charter schools to $367 million, which is less than the Trump request, the Senate bill also requires Congressional approval before the

U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) is allowed to use federal funds to support vouchers or school choice.

The House appropriations resolution (H.R. 3354) maintains current levels of spending for school choice programs, but provides no support for the Trump administration’s proposal to allow Title I federal dollars for education to “follow” students to their school of choice.

The full Senate is not expected to accept H.R.3354, which means that the House and Senate will need to go to a conference committee to resolve the differences in the appropriations measures. As mentioned above lawmakers have given themselves some extra time to approve final FY18 appropriations, by agreeing on a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 8, 2017.

A comparison of some of the appropriation levels in S.1771, H.R. 3354, and in the plan proposed by President Trump’s administration is included in the appendix.

See “Trump School Choice Proposals, K-12 Cuts Again Rebuffed by Senators,” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, September 7, 2017.

 

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) submitted its ESSA plan on September 15, 2017, and will now wait for the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) to review and respond to it.

The U.S. DOE has been reviewing the sixteen states’ ESSA plans submitted in April, and has approved the plans for Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. Massachusetts, Michigan, and Colorado still need to be approved.

Ohio is among the 33 states that submitted plans in September 2017.

According to Alyson Klein at Education Week, the U.S. DOE required Louisiana and Delaware to change the way that achievement in science was factored into their accountability systems, but overall most state plans were approved, even though the U.S. DOE noted some objections to them.

The U.S. DOE also approved some state plans that certain education advocates believe could have been more comprehensive. Arizona’s plan, for example, gives a lower weight to reading and math scores of students who have recently enrolled in a school, causing some advocates to fear that these students will not receive the attention they need to achieve at higher levels.

And some state plans were approved even though they are not complete. Illinois’ plan, for example, includes components that are still being developed. States also don’t have to identify schools that need improvement until after the 2017-18 school year. More on Ohio’s ESSA plan below.

See “ESSA: Four Takeaways on the First State Plans to Win Approval,” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, September 12, 2017.

 

Ohio News

132nd Ohio General Assembly
The Ohio General Assembly returned to Columbus in September 2017 to resume this legislative session, which ends on December 31, 2018.

One of the first actions of the House of Representatives was to approve George Lang as the representative of the 52nd House District on September 13, 2017. Representative Lang replaces Representative Margy Conditt (R-Hamilton), who resigned to spend more time with her family.

Lawmakers are expected to take up action this fall on bills that focus on redistricting, abortion, guns, taxes, Medicaid, the state budget, and more. Currently over 350 bills have been introduced in the House and close to 200 in the Senate. Among those introduced are over 80 education-related bills, including bills that would change how schools are funded; how charter schools are evaluated; and what students need to learn.

House and Senate leaders have also stated that they will revisit Governor Kasich’s vetoes of provisions in Am. Sub. HB49 – Operating Budget, which was signed into law on June 30, 2017. (See the separate report on HB49.)

According to several Ohio newspapers, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, has been surveying House Republicans to see if he has enough votes to override the veto of the provision that would have frozen enrollment in Medicaid.

In the mean time, Senate President Larry Obholf is holding back final Senate approval of SB8 (Gardner, Terhar), a bill to support schools that want to update their infrastructure to support technology. The Ohio House recently approved the bill with amendments, but Senator Obhof said that it might be used as a vehicle to address some budget issues related to Governor Kasich’s vetoes, instead of trying to override the governor’s vetoes.

One of the issues that might be included in SB8 is a replacement of managed care organizations sales tax (MCO). This tax provided local governments with $207 million in funds. The federal government told the state last year that local governments could no longer collect the tax, leaving a revenue gap for cities, townships, county governments, etc. to fill. The legislature provided a remedy in HB49, but Governor Kasich vetoed that provision.

Another vetoed provision that might be considered for an override or compromise is the phase-out of Tangible Personal Property Tax (TTP tax) and Utility Tax reimbursements for some school districts.

Governor Kasich said in his veto message that he is prepared to negotiate a way to help certain school districts that have struggled to replace the lost revenue from the TPP tax.

The General Assembly can take action to override the governor’s vetoes until the end of this legislative session, which is December 31, 2018.

See “Ohio House again weighs override of Kasich veto protecting Medicaid expansion,” by Julie Carr, Cincinnati Enquirer, September 9, 2017.

 

Congressional Redistricting Reform: Leaders in the Ohio House and Senate are discussing a plan to pass a constitutional amendment that would reform the way the state establishes districts for members of Congress. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Senate President Larry Obhof, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, and House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn met in mid September to discuss how the state draws its congressional districts and work-out a compromise.

Ohio’s current congressional map, which was signed into law in 2011, creates, as a result of gerrymandering, a situation in which Republicans control 12 of the 16 congressional districts, even though the state is evenly split between Democratic and Republican voters.

Pressure on lawmakers to pass a redistricting bill is mounting, now that some statewide organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause, are joining together to collect signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition needs to collect 309,521 to qualify for the November 2018 ballot, and has already collected over 100,000 signatures. The proposal would create a bipartisan seven-member panel to oversee the redistricting process.

See “Are Ohio lawmakers truly serious about revamping congressional redistricting?” by Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, September 10, 2017.

 

Education Policies: The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, has been considering bills about the computer science curriculum (HB170 Cargagna, Duffey); student rights (SB172 Yuko); and the use of student seclusion in public schools (SB104 Tavares).

The House Education and Career Readiness Committee, chaired by Representative Brenner, has been reviewing bills about career information for students, (HB98 Duffey, Boggs); community school enrollment verification (HB21 Hambley); and informing students about the cost of higher education (HB108 C. Hagan, McColley).

A status of some selected education-related House and Senate bills is included in the appendix.
There are also two legislative committees that have been meeting to examine education-related issues.

The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty, chaired by Representative Bob Cupp, met for the first time on July 27, 2017.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger announced the creation of the task force in March 2017. The goal of the task force is to inform legislative and state policy decisions about practicable and effective strategies to close the student achievement gap for disadvantaged students.

Members of the Task Force include:

  • Rep. Darrell Kick
  • Rep. Janine Boyd
  • Dr. Bob Mengerink (superintendent, Cuyahoga County ESC)
  • Anthony Knickerbocker (career and technical education director, Lancaster City Schools)
  • John Stack (president and owner, Cambridge Education Group)
  • Karen Boch (superintendent, Wellston School District)
  • Dr. Thomas Maridada II (CEO, BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools)
  • Hannah Powell (executive director, KIPP Columbus)

The Joint Education Oversight Committee, also chaired by Representative Cupp, was established by the 131st Ohio General Assembly through HB64 to review educational policy issues and programs in schools and state institutions of higher education.

The members include Representatives Bob Cupp, Vern Sykes, Andrew Brenner, Teresa Fedor, John Patterson, and Ryan Smith, and Senators Cliff Hite, Matt Huffman, Peggy Lehner, and Sandra Williams.

So far the committee has received presentations about school transportation, teacher preparation programs, Ohio’s ESSA plan, building world-class education systems, and more. Tim Katz presented testimony in March 2017 about the OAAE’s recommendations for ESSA.

The JEOC’s executive director is Lauren Monowar-Jones.
Ohio’s ESSA Plan: The Ohio Department of Education submitted to the U.S. DOE Ohio’s ESSA plan on September 15, 2017.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Paulo DeMaria changed the Ohio Department of Education’s original timeline for submitting Ohio’s ESSA plan to the U.S. DOE in April, 2017 after stakeholders protested that the plan did not reflect what was said at the public outreach meetings. Among the several components of the plan that stakeholders questioned, was the continued emphasis on testing as a basis for Ohio’s accountability system, the lack of accountability measures that better reflect the whole school experience, and a lack of vision and goals for Ohio’s education system.

The delay provided another opportunity for education advocates to make more recommendations to revise the ESSA plan. The OAAE, for example, recommended that the plan correct the state graduation requirements, which had omitted the arts requirement, and insert support for a “well-rounded education” in several parts of the plan. Most of OAAE’s recommendations were included.

See http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Every-Student-Succeeds-Act-ESSA
Ohio’s Strategic Education Plan: As Ohio’s ESSA plan was being developed, it became apparent that the federal ESSA template, which was aligned to federal rules and laws, and even Ohio’s laws, were preventing any real substantive education reforms from being proposed in the plan. An article by Patrick O’Donnell in The Plain Dealer by Patrick O’Donnell described the revised ESSA plan as including, “few changes that anyone will directly notice in classrooms.”

In response to stakeholder calls for less testing and more comprehensive reforms, Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria announced in March 2017 the creation of a test advisory committee to review state mandated testing, and a framework for developing a new strategic plan for Ohio’s schools.

The recommendations of the test advisory panel led Superintendent DeMaria to recommend in June 2017 eliminating the 4th and 6th grade social studies state tests. This provision was included in Am. Sub. HB49 (R. Smith) Biennial Budget, and is now in law.

But some of the panel’s other recommendations to reduce the number of graduation tests, including American History, Government, and those used to evaluate teachers, including locally developed tests at the elementary level in the arts, social studies, and science, will have to wait until the legislature changes current law. Locally developed tests used to evaluate teachers, for example, “make-up nearly 80 percent of the more than 200 hours of standardized tests students have to take over their 12 years of school.” (Patrick O’Donnell quoting Superintendent DeMaria at the June 2017 State Board of Education meeting.)

Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education is being developed by six workgroups, coordinated by an Oversight Team and Stakeholder Advisory Group that reports to the Superintendent’s Steering Committee. The six workgroups are focusing on the following areas:

  • Early learning and literacy (preparing our youngest children for success in school);
  • Standards, assessments and accountability (measuring what students know and are able to do and evaluating schools);
  • Excellent educators and instructional practices (excellent teachers, teaching and school management);
  • Student supports and school climate and culture (supporting students and offering a comfortable environment that maximizes their learning);
  • High school success and postsecondary connections (clear academic expectations and smooth transitions to higher education and work).

 

See “Halt Ohio’s ESSA plan until state testing is cut, 150 angry educators, officials tell state,” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, February 23, 2017.

See “No more art, music, and gym tests just to grade teachers? How Ohio could change testing under new proposal,” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, June 13, 2017.

State school board approves bare bones ESSA plan with a few adjustments,” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, July 12, 2017.

 

Report Cards: The Ohio Department of Education released on September 7, 2017 the 2016-17 state report cards for Ohio’s 609 schools districts, schools, charter schools, career-technical districts, and dropout prevention and recovery schools.

The report cards for most traditional and charter schools are based on six categories: Achievement, Progress, Graduation Rate, Prepared for Success, K-3 Literacy and Gap Closing.

The 2016-17 report cards are the last report cards to be released that do not include an overall A-F grade for schools. This is also the last state report card issued under a legislative “safe harbor provision” that protects schools from some consequences of low grades.

According to a presentation made to the State Board of Education on September 18, 2017 by Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, overall, Ohio’s schools scores are improving and proficiency rates are increasing compared to 2015 and 2016, the first two years of the transition to the new Ohio standards. Scores increased in every subject area compared to 2016, and in every grade, except for fifth grade math and eighth grade history. Also of note, more students are passing at higher levels of proficiency.

In addition all subgroups improved in English language arts and math; the graduation rate continues to improve; and more students are prepared for success.

On a sobering note, the report card also includes information about chronic student absenteeism, which is an unfortunate problem facing Ohio’s schools. Ohio’s overall rate is 16.4 percent, but increases to 27 percent for African-American students and 30 percent for seniors. Economically disadvantaged students are 2.5 times more likely to be chronically absent compared to non-disadvantaged students.

The following is a summary of some of the report card results:

  • The Performance Index score increased to 84.1 from 81.6 last year. Proficiency rates for all students increased on all but two tests – fifth grade math and high school American history.
  • More than half of school districts earned and A (129 districts) or a B (200 plus) on the Progress component, which measures how students do compared to their own past performance on math and English tests in grades four through eight. About 50 districts earned a C grade, which equates to average academic growth.
  • About half of school districts earned a D on the Achievement component, which shows how many students score at, above, or below proficiency on state tests. About 200 school districts earned a C; 13 earned an A; more than 50 earned a B; and 19 earned an F.
  • Fewer charter schools scored above average for Progress than in previous years, and more charter schools scored lower on the Achievement component. Two charter schools earned an A on the Achievement component, and four earned a B. On the Progress component, about a quarter of charter schools scored in the A or B range, while about 50 showed average growth with a grade of C. Some charter schools are not rated on various measures and components for state report cards, because they do not enroll students at all grade levels, or enroll a small number of students or subset of students.
  • Ohio’s Urban 8 group of big city schools – Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown – earned mostly grades of D and F on the report card components, accept for the graduation rate component, in which more than half earned an A and over 80 percent earning at least a B.

The state’s report card website includes explanations of how each measure and component is calculated.

 

Appendix A

Comparison of FY18 Appropriations for the U.S. Department of Education and Other Agencies Proposed by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee; the U.S. House of Representative; and the Trump Administration

Information about some of the appropriation levels was not available for some of the programs. This document will be updated when the information is available.

 

 

Appendix B: Status of Selected Education-Related Bills

 

House Bills

-HB58 (Brenner, Slaby) Cursive Handwriting Instruction: To require instruction in cursive handwriting
Status: Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee – Reported out

-HB102 (Brenner) School Funding Reform: To replace locally levied school district property taxes with a statewide property tax and require recipients of certain tax exemptions to reimburse the state for such levy revenue lost due to those exemptions; to increase the state sales and use tax rates and allocate additional revenue to state education purposes; to repeal school district income taxes; to require the Treasurer of State to issue general obligation bonds to refund certain school district debt obligations; to create a new system of funding schools where the state pays a specified amount per student that each student may use to attend the public or chartered nonpublic school of the student’s choice, without the requirement of a local contribution; to eliminate the School Facilities Commission; to eliminate the Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program, Pilot Project Scholarship Program, Autism Scholarship Program, and Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program; to eliminate interdistrict open enrollment; to require educational service centers to transport students on a countywide basis; and to permit school districts to enter into a memoranda of understanding for one district to manage another
Status: House Finance Committee

-HB108 (C. Hagan, McColley) Informed Student Document: To require one-half unit of financial literacy in the high school curriculum, to require the Chancellor of Higher Education to prepare an informed student document for each institution of higher education, to require the State Board of Education to include information on the informed student document in the standards and model curricula it creates for financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and to entitle the act the “Informed Student Document Act”
Status: House Education & Career Readiness Committee

-HB124 (Brenner, Carfagna) Vocational School Tax Levy: To authorize a joint vocational school district to submit the question of a renewal tax levy to voters who did not have an opportunity to vote on the levy at an election held in November of 2015 because the levy was only placed on the ballot in one of several counties in which the district has territory
Status: Signed by Governor – Effective immediately

-HB200 (Koehler, K) Opportunity Scholarship Program: To eliminate the Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program and Pilot Project Scholarship Program and to create the Opportunity Scholarship Program
Status: House Education & Career Readiness Committee

-HB21 (Hambley) Community School Enrollment Verification: Regarding verification of community school enrollments.
Status: House Education & Career Readiness Committee

-HB235 (Gavarone) Legislative Approval of Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan
Status: Approved by the House

Senate Bills

-SB8 (Gardner, Terhar) School Infrastructure and Technology: To require the Ohio School Facilities Commission to establish a program assisting school districts in purchasing technology and making physical alterations to improve technology infrastructure and school safety and security.
Status: (Passed by Senate) Passed by House as amended on Floor, Vote 97-0; Senate refused to concur with House amendments.

-SB39 (Joe Schiavoni) Community School Operations: Regarding community school operator contracts, the operation of Internet- and computer-based community schools, and performance metrics for blended learning schools
Status: Senate Education Committee

-SB82 (Williams, Lehner) School Absences-Parental Notification: To require a public school to place a telephone call within one hour of the start of the school day to a parent whose child is absent without legitimate excuse
Status: Senate Education Committee

-SB85 (Huffman) Opportunity Scholarship Program Creation: To eliminate the Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program and Pilot Project Scholarship Program and to create the Opportunity Scholarship Program
Status: Senate Education Committee

-SB175 (Schiavoni) Recovered Funds-School Audit Regarding public moneys returned to the state as a result of a finding for recovery issued pursuant to an audit of a community school
Status: Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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