Ohio voters approved on November 3, 1953 Article VI Section 4, a constitutional amendment that created a state board of education, a superintendent of public instruction appointed by the state board, and abolished the existing office of superintendent of public instruction appointed by the governor. (1)
The purpose of Article VI Section 4 was to create a non-partisan state board of education, which would act independently from the governor’s office, and insulate education policy making from politics. An elected state board would also facilitate the participation of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community members in the development and implementation of education policies. (2)
Following the adoption of Article VI Section 4, the General Assembly approved legislation to create an elected state board of education, which would appoint a superintendent of public instruction. The elected state board was replaced in 1995 by a 19-member board, which includes 11 elected and 8 members appointed by the governor. The change was made after the State Board of Education defied Governor George Voinovich, and voted against appealing the first DeRolph school funding decision, issued by Judge Linton Lewis, Perry County Court of Common Pleas in July 1994. (3) The language to create an all-appointed state board was included in the biennial budget bill, 121-HB117, introduced in January 1995. Citizens vigorously opposed the all-appointed board, which led to a compromise and the creation of the current hybrid board. This legislative change was later challenged in the courts, based on the single subject rule, and eventually separate legislation, HB711, was signed into law by Governor Taft in July 2000, affirming the new composition of the state board.
Representative Bill Reineke introduced on February 14, 2018 House Bill 512 Consolidate Career-Education Governance. The bill transfers, with some exceptions, the current duties of the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Ohio Department of Education, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, and the Department of Higher Education to a new Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA). The proposed new department would control over 53 percent of the General Revenue Fund.
The bill substantially reduces the responsibilities of the State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction; eliminates the Ohio Board of Regents and the Chancellor of Higher Education; and allows the governor to appoint a director for the new Department of Learning and Achievement.
Currently the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction oversee primary and secondary education, while the Chancellor and the Department of Higher Education oversee higher education, including 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities, career technical schools, and adult education. The Ohio Board of Regents serves as an advisory board to the Chancellor, but, according to the
, hasn’t met in over a year, because it doesn’t have enough members to make a quorum. The governor appoints the nine members of the Ohio Board of Regents. (4)
Both Republican and Democratic governors have advocated for more authority over making education policy, but have been frustrated in attempts, because the requirements for a State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction are prescribed in the Ohio Constitution, and would require amending the constitution, which is no easy task.
Article VI Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution mandates that, “There shall be a state board of education which shall be selected in such manner and for such terms as shall be provided by law. There shall be a superintendent of public instruction, who shall be appointed by the state board of education. The respective powers and duties of the board and of the superintendent shall be prescribed by law.”
HB512 takes advantage of the constitution’s language allowing the legislature to determine the duties of the State Board and Superintendent. The bill avoids changing the constitution by retaining the current organization of the state board, which has eleven elected members and eight members appointed by the governor, and the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, but reduces their responsibilities and eliminates their policy-making and rule-making authority.
The State Board of Education would retain authority to revoke a district and/or school charter; issue educator licenses and implement disciplinary actions concerning licenses; determine payments for parents in lieu of transportation; approve territory transfers; hold Chapter 119 administrative proceedings; determine permanent student expulsions; sponsor community schools; oversee the state schools for the deaf and blind; and administer other proceedings.
Formulating policies and developing rules for academic content standards and model curriculum, graduation, accountability, assessment, teacher licensing, higher education, workforce development, etc. would be transferred to the new Department of Learning and Achievement.
The bill has the support of some sup
erintendents and advocates for career-technical education, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and the Ohio Manufacturers Association. Supporters believe that the bill will align Ohio’s education systems to the meet the current and future employment needs of Ohio, and increase the percentage of Ohioans who complete some post secondary education from the current 43 percent to 65 percent of Ohioans by 2025. (5)
Governor John Kasich also supports the bill, which he believes will give the governor more authority over education policy, and will hold the governor more accountable to the voters for improving education results.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger announced on February 14, 2018 that the bill is a priority for this legislative session, and he hopes that the bill will pass the House before the summer recess.
Statewide public education organizations, including the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, oppose HB512. They believe that attention to the unique needs of students in grades K-12 in over 600 school districts would be marginalized in an agency that also focuses on higher education and workforce development.
Although voters will still be able to elect members of the State Board from their districts, the policy-making and rule-making authority of the State Board of Education will be greatly reduced, and the public and education stakeholders will lose the ability to influence the rule-making process at the grassroots level through State Board committee meetings and business meetings.
The bill is assigned to the House Governance and Accountability and Oversight Committee, chaired by Representative Louis Blessing III, which began hearings on the bill on February 20, 2018. A substitute bill to address concerns raised by homeschooling advocates is expected to be introduced.