CH-UH Board of Education opposes state takeover law
Democratically elected boards of education are a hallmark of the American tradition of public education. At its Sept. 1 meeting, the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) went on record affirming the importance of local governance of public schools, and criticized the Ohio legislature’s takeover plan for the Youngstown City School District that gave control of this urban district to an appointed CEO.
The Ohio Legislature approved HB 70 in June, without public input. It lays the groundwork for state control of other districts that fail to meet Ohio’s state test performance goals—the latest high-stakes consequence tied to testing. The law takes effect in October and is being challenged in court.
The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) opposes the law and invited local boards of education to endorse a resolution calling for the legislature, governor, and superintendent of public instruction to restore local board responsibility. Nancy Peppler, CH-UH BOE president, introduced OSBA’s resolution criticizing HB 70. The board endorsed the resolution on a 5-0 vote.
Prior to the meeting, Heights Coalition for Public Education, an informal group of parents, educators and community members, urged the board to voice its opposition to HB 70.
The Youngstown City School District is a high-poverty district. Ohio Department of Education enrollment data for the 2014–15 school year indicate that 99.5 percent of Youngstown’s 5,313 students were identified as economically disadvantaged.
Jan Resseger, Cleveland Heights education writer and coalition member, stated, “Plans like these that have been imposed by other states most often seize school districts where many children are poor, but they neither address the economic challenges faced by families nor make classes smaller nor add counselors and social workers to support the teachers. Local control through elected school boards is most likely to respond to the needs of each community. Kudos to the CH-UH school board for opposing the new Youngstown state takeover.”
Susie Kaeser is a member of the Heights Coalition for Public Education and spoke at the board meeting in support of district opposition to the takeover plan.