There’s a chasm widening between ohio public school reality and the distorted caricature of public education that is painted by too many Ohio lawmakers and politicians.
In each of Ohio’s more than 600 school districts, a community of students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators share the goal of creating strong local public schools, where students are valued and accepted and where comprehensive and challenging courses prepare students for success.
In these communities, there are difficult conversations about how to address issues that stand in the way of achieving this common goal – unreliable school funding, oversized classrooms, lack of books and supplies, shortage of teachers and staff and resources. inadequate for students with learning difficulties. disabilities.
Instead of supporting this collaborative process, some Ohio lawmakers, including the sponsors of House Bill 327Representatives Diane Grendell and Sarah Fowler Arthurand the sponsors of House Bill 616Representatives Mike Loychik and John Schmidt, have chosen to make the public school the enemy and Pit parents against educators.
Proponents of these bills have diverted the statewide conversation oneon education policy and turned our schools into a battleground for a division culture war riddled with false claims that teachers and administrators indoctrinate students about race and gender issues.
By using these lies as justification, both bills encroach on local control of schools, interfere with the ability to provide an honest and inclusive learning environment, and distract from the real crises that need to be addressed.
Meanwhile, parents, educators and public school administrators are focused on meeting the needs of our students who have increased over the past two difficult school years. There are proven best practices for doing this.
What do children really need?
First, we must meet the needs of the child as a whole.
When students are not in good physical or mental health, or when they face food insecurity, they will not succeed academically. Schools are natural community hubs and can partner with other programs and organizations to seamlessly provide students with services that meet their health, wellness, and social emotional needs.
This approach has been incorporated into the strategic plan of the Ohio Department of Education with broad support from across the political spectrum. Dishonest attacks, enabled by the rhetoric of House Bill 327 and House Bill 616, now falsely claim that this approach is an intrusion into personal and family privacy and a misappropriation of education.
Second, we need to create learning conditions that engage students, including small class sizes and a wide selection of music, art, STEMlanguage and other electives.
However, the inability of the legislator to adopt a school funding formula has made it difficult for school districts to make long-term investments in these areas.
Third, we must prepare students for success after graduation by dedicating resources to all academic options, including professional and technical development.
In order to keep our young people in Ohio after graduation, we need to make it a welcoming and inclusive state. Legislation that marginalizes students and makes families feel unwelcome will have a detrimental effect on Ohio’s ability to compete for the workforce necessary for new businesses to thrive.
Even the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has pronounced against Bill 616.
Finally, we need experienced and quality educators and staff to make this vision a reality.
People choose to work in a school system because they want to serve their community and help students succeed, but that choice becomes more difficult when they are attacked daily by decision-makers who ignore the real needs of students and instead sow division.
This creates a teacher shortage and support staff as people are leaving the system earlier as fewer young people choose this career option.
The divisive attempts to attack students and teachers in House Bills 616 and 327 are already creating damage in our schools by delaying the work we need to do to ensure that all Ohio students can to succeed. These bills must be stopped.
Georgetown resident Melissa Cropper is a library media specialist and president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. The OFT represents 20,000 active and retired members across the state, including public school educators and support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, and public sector employees.