DeWine likes idea to shift authority away from State Board of Education and into his office
The Ohio Senate is scheduled to take up a vote on a bill that would take power away from the non-partisan Ohio State Board of Education and give it to the governor’s office and legislature.
The state board of education makes decisions about curriculum used in K-12 schools, determines policy on how to implement state laws and more. It also hires the state school superintendent and oversees the Ohio Department of Education.
Lawmakers, who say the aim of this bill is to create accountability, are considering it in the weeks following the November election when school board members, backed by teachers unions and Democratic groups, were elected.
The governor already gets to appoint some members to the board but this new bill would give governors more power over the board. While in office, former Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, wanted some of that power transferred from the board to his office.
Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he hasn't seen the actual language of the bill and added that the bill wasn’t his idea but he said he supports the idea.
“What the public expects is accountability and it’s hard to have accountability under our current system," DeWine said.
The board, which is made up of non-partisan, elected members, meets once a month, often over a couple of days to discuss business.
However, some people have complained the current system isn't working.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) is among those who thinks the Ohio Department of Education involves too much bureaucracy to actually work properly.
"That system as it has grown through the decades in the state of Ohio essentially has an isolated Ohio Department of Education, has no responsibility to the state legislature and essentially can thrust and parry whatever it is that the state board of education members put before them from time to time and they don't have any responsibility toward the governor either because they are not his employees," Huffman said.
In recent months, the board has considered a controversial proposed resolution that supports anti-LGBTQ legislation being considered by the Ohio Legislation and backs Republican Attorney General Dave Yost for his involvement in a multi-state lawsuit over new federal Title IX changes.
Those changes include LGBTQ protections against discrimination. That protection is applied to the federal agency that oversees federal school lunch dollars. Some fear Ohio schools might lose that federal money if it doesn't investigate claims of LGBTQ discrimination.
The board is set to consider the resolution, which doesn't carry the weight of law, again next week.