Legislative Watch – October 14, 2022

Advocacy Continues to Repeal Mandatory Student Retention

This week the State Board of Education’s Legislative Committee unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the legislature repeal mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The resolution is expected to be considered by the full Board at its November meeting.

House Bill 497 is legislation currently pending that would end mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Guarantee. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon), passed the Ohio House 82-10 and is now pending in the Senate. OEA supports this bill based on a belief that high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on standardized test scores. Repealing the mandatory retention requirement would allow educators and parents to make decisions about what is best for students.

On Monday, OEA held a virtual press conference in support of repealing mandatory retention and passage of House Bill 497. Speakers included OEA member Karen Carney, Representative Gayle Manning, State Board of Education member Dr. Christina Collins, and Furman University Professor Dr. Paul Thomas. They noted that the evidence shows student retention has not improved reading proficiency and has been harmful to students.

OEA is urging members of the Ohio Senate to pass House Bill 497 before the end of the year. To contact your state senator and urge them to support the bill, click here.

Senate Bill 361 Introduced — Allows Military Veterans to Teach Without Educator License

SB 361 (R-Hoagland) was introduced on October 3, 2022, and has yet to be assigned to committee. OEA opposes SB 361, which allows certain military veterans to teach in Ohio’s classrooms without receiving the training and preparation otherwise necessary to obtain a professional educator license. OEA welcomes brave and dedicated servicemembers into Ohio’s classrooms when they are appropriately trained and licensed to teach. In fact, Ohio already has an avenue for former service members to become licensed teachers through the Troops to Teachers program. More details are available in the OEA Government Relations SB 361 Bill Summary.

Educator licenses protect the interests of students and taxpayers. OEA opposes elimination of the requirement to hold an educator license for any reason, whether it be for individuals with a military background or another criteria. Elimination of the requirement to hold an educator license is a band-aid approach to the teacher shortage that cuts corners when it comes to serving the best interests of Ohio students. The teacher shortage in Ohio should be addressed with systemic changes that attract aspiring educators (including military veterans) and retain them in the profession (which is more likely if they are properly trained and licensed), while also ensuring all students receive the classroom instruction they deserve.

OEA’s comprehensive recommendations for addressing the teacher shortage in Ohio can be found in the recently released OEA Educator Voice Cadre Report on Teacher Recruitment and Retention (OEA Educator Voice Academy recommendations).