Legislative Watch – February 26, 2021

OEA Testifies in Support of Bill to Fix School Funding

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, OEA President Scott DiMauro offered proponent testimony before the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education for House Bill 1. House Bill 1 contains the Fair School Funding Plan. The Fair School Funding Plan passed the Ohio House by a vote of 87-9 at the end of 2020, but the Senate did not consider the bill before the legislative session ended.

The Fair School Funding Plan seeks to base decision making on identifiable student needs and the actual cost of providing a high-quality education. The funding plan would provide an additional $1.99 billion more in state aid annually when fully phased in and provides about 70% of the increased funds to the poorest urban, small town, and rural districts in the state. The plan would also end the use of gain caps and would reduce the number of districts from the state’s funding guarantee to fewer than 10 of Ohio’s 609 districts. Additionally, the bill direct funds charters and vouchers, rather than the current pass-through funding system.

Click here to read OEA President Scott DiMauro’s testimony.

HB 67 Stalls Amid Federal Testing Announcement

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they would not be granting waivers allowing states to forego annual testing this year. While the announcement included flexibility about when and how the tests are administered and how the data may be used; testing will go forward. This is hugely disappointing news as Ohio educators have been vocal about the need to focus on classroom instruction and meeting student needs rather than spending time on standardized tests.

This announcement came a day before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee was poised to pass House Bill 67. HB 67, sponsored by Representatives Adam Bird (R- Cincinnati) and Kyle Koehler (R- Springfield), calls for waiving state required tests and requiring the Ohio Department of Education to seek a waiver of federally mandated tests for this school year. The bill also allows high schoolers to use their course grades in lieu of test scores for the purpose of high school graduation.

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified in support of HB 67. Click here to read his testimony. Additionally, over 6,300 OEA members took action in support of HB 67. There was broad support in the House to pass the bill, however, the Ohio Senate and Governor DeWine were likely roadblocks to keep the bill from being signed into law.

OEA remains supportive of the provisions of HB 67 related to waiving state testing above the federal minimum requirements (high school end of course exams in American History and American Government) and allowing class grades to be used for high school graduation. These provisions may move forward in an amended version of HB 67 or in separate legislation. We will keep members updated as the situation develops.

 

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