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DeWine pushes the 'Science of Reading,' talks ODE lawsuit during visit at Cincinnati State

Gov. Mike DeWine visits a classroom in the William L. Mallory Learning Center at Cincinnati State
Zack Carreon
Gov. Mike DeWine visits a classroom in the William L. Mallory Learning Center at Cincinnati State

Gov. Mike DeWine stopped by Cincinnati State Technical and Community College on Thursday to meet with educators using the "Science of Reading" to teach students to read.

The Science of Reading is a learning approach that teaches kids to focus on pronouncing letters within words and combining them together to form complete words and sentences. The method differs from other reading strategies that teach kids to memorize words and use context clues until they can read and understand them.

DeWine's effort to implement the Science of Reading into Ohio's public schools has hit a few speed bumps along the way. A recent lawsuit filed by seven members of the Ohio State Board of Education has added another obstacle.

RELATED: Report: Training of Ohio teachers in the 'Science of Reading' earns mixed grades

Last month, those board members won a court order blocking DeWine's planned overhaul of the department. After Ohio's state budget was passed this summer, the Ohio Department of Education was to undergo the process of being replaced by the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, operated by DeWine's office. A Franklin County judge approved an injunction that puts the governor's plans on hold until Oct. 20.

The Department of Education and Workforce can't fully operate or appoint a head of the department until the judge rules on the matter. DeWine says this pause has slowed the implementation of the science of reading in the state's schools.

"Our challenge, quite candidly, is it's been difficult to move forward with this program," DeWine told reporters. "The money's been provided by the legislature, but we have an injunction now that prohibits us, prohibits the department from moving forward and so we hope that gets resolved very quickly because the science of reading is the key."

RELATED: How Cincinnati-area districts fared on state school report cards

While at Cincinnati State, the governor visited students at the William L. Mallory Early Learning Center and observed educators in classrooms from the Cincinnati Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship who use the science of reading to educate their young students.

The fellowship recruits young men of color to get involved in the education system by having them give educational support to pre-kindergarten students. The intent of the program is to increase the number of men of color in the classroom and in school buildings.

DeWine says programs like these are not just putting role models in the classroom for students of color, but they're also helping students learn more effectively because their teachers are training in the science of reading from the very beginning.

"The work you're seeing here that is being done here preparing teachers. Teachers who are prepared in the science of reading is very, very important because one of the challenges we face is that many of our teachers have not been prepared that way," DeWine said.

For now, the new Department of Education and Workforce can only handle the operational business of Ohio's schools like delivering funds to districts. The government's plan to make using the science of reading a requirement for Ohio's teachers will have to wait.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.