Because of their policy responsibilities, State Board of Education members must be ready to deal with some big questions. One of the biggest is how much flexibility to allow to local school districts.
While this question applies to many issues, the spotlight is currently on gifted education, which was a major topic at the March meeting and is expected to be a major topic at the April meeting.
The March meeting featured an interesting bit of conflicting testimony.
- The morning session ended with presentations by a series of superintendents and other administrators, mostly from small rural school districts. They described the programs their schools provide for gifted students, mostly through enrichment available in regular classrooms. They argued that for their school districts, mandating pullout programs and gifted education specialists would be unnecessary and counterproductive.
- The afternoon session was led off by two speakers making just the opposite point. High school student Sophia Bowe explained to the Board how much her school’s gifted program has meant to her. Her father, Stark County ESC Assistant Superintendent Marty Bowe, stressed the importance of keeping requirements: “The problem we have in our locals is that there’s not enough resources, so if you don’t require it to be done, it won’t get done.”
So the question remains: how much flexibility should ODE allow to school districts in the matter of gifted education? Both groups were persuasive, and it will take careful work by ODE to develop the right plan for the future. Testimony will continue at the April meeting.
Since this question is replicated in many other areas of education policy, patterns established here may carry over into other areas as well.
Extra Credit (light reading)
- The Department of Education’s Gifted Education home page provides access to a number of resources that directly influence how school districts identify and serve gifted students.
- The General Assembly set forth the Board’s responsibility in 1999 with the latest version of Revised Code 3324.01-07. The board is considering a draft of new operating standards to replace the existing operating standards. The existing standards are fifteen pages long; the draft is three pages long, which represents a move toward more flexibility.
This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education, http://bill4board.us.