A House panel on Wednesday voted mostly along party lines to send the report card overhaul bill to the full House, which is expected to take up the measure during Thursday's session.
Democrats on the House Education Committee opposed the legislation after seeing 14 of their 16 amendments tabled by majority members. Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) was the only minority member to vote in favor of reporting the bill, which was approved 15-8.
The committee adopted three Republican-sponsored amendments, two of which were technical changes.
Addressing concerns expressed by some Democrats Tuesday, the committee approved a change that requires the Department of Education give a presentation to the House and Senate education committees on its recommendations at least 45 days before the State Board of Education votes to adopt them.
"Given the scope of this bill, with the amount of material that's in it and everything at this point and time, we just decided - I just decided - that this would be a good idea to bring it back so that we can review it," Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) said.
Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) was successful in offering an amendment to require treasurers at charter schools to be licensed.
Chairman Stebelton initially opposed the action because similar language is included in Rep. Christina Hagan's (R-Uniontown) fiscal officer accountability legislation (HB 529), saying he thinks it fit better there. About 95% of charter treasurers are already licensed, he added.Rep. Ronald Gerberry (R-Austintown Twp.) said, however, he was surprised the panel would not consider the amendment for a place in such a vast bill when it has an opportunity to pass it in the last couple weeks of the session.
"I was going to ask for someone to give a good reason not to do this and, all due respect to the chairman, I think saying that there's another bill that's pending in a legislative session that's almost sine die is not really a good argument to vote this amendment down," he said.The chairman said Mr. Gerberry's statements convinced him, and the committee unanimously approved the amendment for inclusion in the bill.
Democrats also garnered support from three Republicans allowing them to successfully defeat a motion to table and to then amend the bill on a 12-11 vote to prevent students from placement in remedial classes at the college level if there is no evidence they need remediation.
Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) and Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) joined Democrats in support of the change, to which Chairman Stebelton objected.Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) attempted to eliminate the use of an overall letter grade for schools altogether as opposed to existing language to delay the use of the composite score for two years. It would have retained the dashboard that shows scores on a variety of measures.Chairman Stebelton said although he thinks there might be some merit to the idea - something several witnesses requested - he nevertheless negotiated with the governor's office to include an overall letter grade. The amendment was tabled on party lines.
Also rejected as being contradictory to an agreement with the governor's office was Rep. Dan Ramos' (D-Lorain) amendment to add pluses and minuses to the grading system."It would allow further distinction and more accurately describe to the district and the public how well a district is performing," he said, adding it also would allow high-achieving schools to be rated A+. Rep. Butler and Rep. Smith joined Democrats in opposing the motion to table the amendment that nevertheless passed.Tabled on mostly party lines were minority amendments to:Several of the tabled amendments (tabling does not equal rejection, technically) I think had some merit. However, I found it telling that Chairman Stebelton responded to one Democrat this way:
- Further amend the Ohio Accountability Advisory Committee by restoring a school teacher and a superintendent to the panel to be appointed by the minority leaders in the House and Senate. It would have reduced the membership from 14 to nine.
- Require nonpublic operators of charter schools to comply with public records laws and subject them to an audit.
- Require the state board to provide evidence of the validity of data used in the value-added measure on the report card before it is used as a graded measure.
- Create a three-year safe harbor for the teacher evaluation system that reduces the student growth component of the score from 50% to 25%. The move was sought by the Ohio Federation of Teachers during its Tuesday testimony.
- Create a safe harbor for districts with a grade of "continuous improvement," making them immune from any sanctions for dropping to a D or F.
- Require fees for the nationally standardized college entrance test to be covered by the state because the report card would measure participation on the test.
- Continue the moratorium on e-schools.
- Create a dashboard measure on the transient nature of students, which minority members said has an impact on the success of a school.
- Change the date for implementing the new report card t the 2013-14 school year.
- Require the state board to submit to the House and Senate a written description of all rulemaking authority it receives through the bill.
- Delay the performance rating for schools as it affects which districts are eligible for the Educational Choice scholarship.
- Require any private school receiving EdChoice vouchers be subject to the new rating requirement. Rep. Craig Newbold (R-Columbiana) joined minority members in dissenting on the vote to table.
- Require ODE to develop a methodology that does not double count students in multiple subgroups. The change was recommended by OFT during the bill's Tuesday hearing.
Chairman Stebelton said although he thinks there might be some merit to the idea - something several witnesses requested - he nevertheless negotiated with the governor's office to include an overall letter grade.Sounds to me like the minority party wasn't even in on the discussions, nor were any advocacy groups. This is a pure majority bill between the super majority in the House and the Governor's office, with a couple accepted provisions from the minority party that make too much sense to reject.
My major concern with this whole issue is this: I don't mind tougher standards if they have the following three components:
1) Peer reviewed research behind it demonstrating that it will actually measure a school's excellence
2) Sufficient resources for schools to improve their performance
3) Accuracy, not simply an over correction of the old system
This new system does none of this. It remains overly dependent upon test scores, which are hugely influenced by a school's demographics. It has no peer reviewed research behind it indicating it will be a good measure of a school's performance. It has zero, that's right zero money it it to support schools' adoption of the new system. And it will simply make every school district in the state seem like it's been overrated for the last 15 years.
Again, if you're trying to undo a public school system, you would do two things: 1) drain it of money, and 2) convince the public they are doing a bad job.
The General Assembly has cut $1.8 billion from education and now has implemented a system that (if the preliminary runs from earlier this year hold) will show that more than 8 out of every 10 school districts have been overrated by the new system and none were underrated. The current report card system is seriously flawed too, but is it that far off? In the words of Seth Meyers, Really???
And there is no money for schools to try to improve. They will have to make do with $1.8 billion less and the higher standards.
I'm not one to run from higher standards. But when they raised the standards in Massachusetts in the 1990s, the Massachusetts legislature increased money to schools by about $2 billion. Today, Massachusetts schools are considered the country's best.
My grandpa used to tell me that you get what you pay for. We seem to accept that truism in every part of our lives, except education