Senate Bill 178, which failed in the House during the lame duck session, has been re-introduced with some modifications as SB1. This bill would restructure the Ohio Department of Education and rename the agency the Department of Education and Workforce-DEW. SB1 does not contain two controversial measures involving vaccine requirements and transgender athletes, which were added to SB178 late in the lame-duck session last month.
According to the proposed bill, a cabinet official, chosen by the Governor, would oversee the department, a task currently held by the state school board. The department would have two divisions: one for primary and secondary education and one for workforce training. Currently, the 19-member state school board, made up of 11 elected members and eight members appointed by the governor, would continue to exist, but it would be stripped of most of its duties. It would oversee educator licensing, and possibly discipline and select the superintendent of public instruction, who would be an advisor to the DEW leader in the governor’s office.
Proponents of the bill argue that State Board of Education is in desperate need of consistent leadership. Individuals appointed by Governor Mike DeWine manage the majority of Ohio’s big state agencies, including the Health and Medicaid departments. Because the head of education is not a member of the governor’s cabinet, it stands out. The lack of leadership has become a problem. Since 2021, the Board of Education has used interims to fill the office of superintendent resulting in inconsistent leadership at a time when chronic absenteeism and learning loss are at record highs and need to be addressed.
Others have concerns that any educational progress could easily be reversed should the Democrats take back the governorship.
More About the Bill
Recently Kirsten Hill, an outgoing member of the State Board of Education, spoke at EmpowerU. She presented a tutorial on the State Board of Education, an overview of SB 178 and her suggestions for more effective change for educational progress. View video here. Remarks begin at 14:45
EmpowerUAmerica is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Dan Regenold, founder and CEO of Frame USA. Regenold’s vision was to create a free university in the Greater Cincinnati area to empower people through information and education. EmpowerUAmerica hosts about 40 guest speakers per year who present classes on current topics related to education, politics, history, and government. Classes can be attended in person at EmpowerU Studio in Springdale, OH or live streamed. Go here for more information, to view the upcoming class schedule or to view past classes.