Bill would ‘reform’ State Board of Education, increase focus on career tech

State Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, wants to overhaul the system administering primary and secondary education in Ohio, restructuring it as the cabinet-level “Department of Education and Workforce.”

That would be split into two divisions, one overseeing primary and secondary education and the other handling “career tech” programs, he told the Ohio Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee on Tuesday.

Reineke’s Senate Bill 178 got its first committee hearing Tuesday. He filed it as a placeholder expressing intent to “reform the functions and responsibilities of the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Department of Education,” planning to put details in a substitute bill.

“We do not have the substitute bill ready today but we are going to have the sponsor give a summary of what’s in the sub Senate Bill 178,” said state Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware, the committee chair.

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Reineke said his eventual sub bill would make major changes to responsibilities of the Ohio State Board of Education, which he said is failing, needs “systemic change” and lacks accountability.

Schools don’t promote vocational and technical career paths as strongly as they promote going to college, and he wants to see that balanced, he said.

Reineke also said he was “shocked” to learn the rates at which Ohio students need remedial classes in college, and that the state’s students are falling behind national reading and math standards.

The bill wouldn’t change the board’s membership structure, and the board would continue to appoint the superintendent of public instruction, Reineke said. The board would enforce rules on teacher licensure, review of staff conduct and school territory transfers he said; but all other duties would be assigned to the new Department of Education and Workforce.

Brenner said he intends to hold several hearings on Reineke’s bill, including a potential committee vote, during the lame-duck session.

State legislators kicked off their five-week lame-duck session with a full day of hearings, though those bills coming up for the first time Tuesday face an uphill battle to get through both chambers before the session ends. Any bills not making the grade would have to be re-filed for consideration by the 135th General Assembly, which convenes in January.

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