Bipartisan Bill Would End Ohio’s ‘Disastrous’ Academic Distress Commissions

A bipartisan bill that would overturn state takeovers of low performing local schools is set to be introduced in the Ohio General Assembly next week.

Under House Bill (HB) 70, a 2015 legislation, the state superintendent of public schools is required to intervene via “Academic Distress Commissions” for “each school district that has been declared to be in academic emergency.”

That bill was authorized two years after the 2013 establishment of the Lorain Academic Distress Commission for the Lorain City School District. The “ultimate goal” of the commission was to “improve academic achievement of the [Lorain City School District] to such an extent that all graduates successfully enter a career or college pathway.”

The commission, as it stands, would cease to exist after Lorain City School District receives a “C” grade or better on the Ohio Department of Education’s performance index score and the value-added progress dimension for two of three school years, which it has evidently thus far failed to do.

As a result, Rep. Joe Miller (D-Miller) and Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) are planning to introduce a bill that would overturn HB 70.

“Placing these districts under state control has been a disaster. In each case, the Academic Distress Commission has been unable to work effectively alongside the district’s teachers, school leaders and community at large,” Miller said in a press release. “After three years, we haven’t seen any evidence that state takeovers improve academic achievement. It’s time for us to restore local control and give struggling schools the support they need to succeed.”

Miller and Jones plan to introduce their bipartisan bill next week, and say the legislation will empower low performing schools to provide “coordinated support services like after-school enrichment and social/health services.”

“I am happy to introduce this bipartisan bill with my colleague,” Jones said. “We need more local control, not less. Distress Commissions have not only taken away school and community pride, but have proven to be unsuccessful in their mission. I’m looking forward to working on this legislation and hope for its eventual passage to ensure all of our children are receiving a top-flight education.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Joe Miller” by Joe Miller. 
Background Photo “Ohio House Floor” by Joshua Rothaas. CC BY 2.0.









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