Paolo DeMaria Says His Job is to Find Consensus

[photo: Ohio Department of Education]
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by Michelle Faust and Karen Kasler

Paolo DeMaria started work at the helm of the Ohio Department of Education this week.

DeMaria is the fourth superintendent in 5 years. ODE is a state department under extreme scrutiny considering State Auditor Dave Yost recently call it the “worst run state agency.”

The new State Superintendent of Instruction says he’s aware of the controversy and prior tension between members of the State Board of Education.

“As we get into the detail, I don’t doubt that there will be places where people disagree. And my job will be to find the consensus, the middle ground, the directions that we can continue making progress on,” says DeMaria.

He most recently worked for an education consulting agency, but will pull on experience from his prior work as a gubernatorial policy advisor saying he expects to work closely with the governor. But he recognizes the roll will require him to get input from several camps: the board, the legislature, the governor’s office, and educators in the field.

“At the end of the day, we need everybody to be clear about the direction that we want to go, with a shared vision, and pulling together,” says DeMaria.

He says his top priorities include the roll-out of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), preparation for the next state budget, and work on legislation and federal funding related to charters.

DeMaria plans to tour the state for local input on the ways Ohioans would like to see ESSA implemented.

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