Recent comments by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost highlight a difference between our views on the Ohio Department of Education, and I think it highlights existing differences regarding public education in general.
In a recent Columbus Dispatch article, Yost blasts ODE as one of the worst-run state agencies. Although I’m still learning about ODE, I’m inclined to agree. And I’m glad that Yost has criticized ODE for its past charter school negligence.
But then, says the article, “He recommended taking responsibilities away from the department so it could focus on its core duties and eliminate conflicts.” The article quotes Yost as saying, “The time has come to shorten the focus. They clearly shouldn’t be doing advocacy and regulatory oversight.”
And there we disagree. One of ODE’s jobs is regulatory oversight. One of the Board of Education’s jobs is advocacy, and they need some ODE staff to help with that task.
Taking those jobs away from ODE and the SBOE would be the easy fix, and like most easy fixes it would be wrong. The right remedy is the hard one: fix the problems that make ODE so problematic.
This is parallel to many Republicans’ ideas about public schools, which seems to be that if you’re dissatisfied with them, you write them off and replace them. I say if we have failing schools, let’s fix them, not replace them.
Whether we’re talking about failing schools or a failing department, that’s what my approach will be if I’m elected to the State Board of Education. It’s the harder job, but it’s the right one. The solution isn’t removing the work: it’s doing the work better.
This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education, http://bill4board.us.