Lawmaker teams up with superintendents to deregulate public schools

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – An effort to deregulate public schools was announced Tuesday at the statehouse.

Superintendents from several school districts stood with State Senator Mike Huffman at the announcement of a bill that promises to remove dozens of regulations that will ultimately benefit students.

The SB 216 seeks to remove nearly 100 regulations on school districts covering topics from testing to teacher evaluations.

School superintendents claim there are too many. They say, not only are they costing schools money they’re negatively affecting students.

One example is illustrated by a request to allow third grade students to take their literacy test using a pen and paper as opposed to forcing them to use a computer.

Waynesfield-Goshen Superintendent Christ Pfister says, not all third graders have access to computers or the training to use them at that age.

“You get these little kids manipulating that computer and doing drop down menus and sometimes drop down menus weren’t working, and then they melt down; and it’s a high stakes test. If you don’t pass this test, you don’t go to fourth grade,” said Pfister.

Huffman takes partial blame for the litany of regulations superintendents face, saying he probably helped pass some of them in his 8 years as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

He says, good intentions have obviously had unintended consequences.

“There are a lot of smart people in Washington D.C. and there are a lot of smart people in the tall buildings in Columbus; but they’re not running the show,” said Huffman.

According to Huffman, superintendents run the show at the 609 school districts of Ohio, and they know what their districts need.

“What we are trying to do with this bill is begin returning the management, the running of the schools to the local level,” said Huffman.

The bill was crafted with the help of superintendents from all over Ohio, and it is getting support from others.

Mark Neal, the superintendent for Tri-Valley Local Schools delivered 13 signatures of support from other superintendents in his area Tuesday morning.

“I think we have had a lot of knee jerk reactions to problems in urban districts and they’ve painted us all with the same brush,” said Neal.

It is unclear yet how much success the bill will have making its way through the legislative process.

Neal points out; other recent bills designed at returning local control have failed due to a lack of support.

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