Budget Preview: education policy


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We got more indications yesterday of the Governor’s plan for his upcoming budget bill (despite what you might read in Ohio law about the state passing budgets every two years, the Governor has his own ideas). High among his priorities are changes to the state’s education policies.

Kasich appears prepared, according to his remarks to reporters (beginning in this clip at 1:20), to implement many changes to Ohio law to allow Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to reform the Cleveland Public School district:

Kasich: “we are looking forward and hope we’re going to get a major reform package for Cleveland. the mayor has assured me he’s all-in on this. it’s really his plan. it’s really designed to bring significant reform to urban areas that have under performed. there’s things he’s going to have to get done in order for me to really be able to move this thing through the legislature. but I would be very excited about the fact that we could have major reform and maybe Ohio could lead the way in terms of reforming our urban areas where we have somewhere in teh vicinity of only about a 60% graduation rate, so you think about how many drop out. So I hope that’s going to happen. There’ll be many other education items in this budget.”

Many of these reforms are identical to proposals contained within SB5 and rejected by the voters in November. According to the Dayton Daily News:

The plan calls for state law changes to give the district more autonomy, eliminate seniority as the sole factor for employee layoffs or assignments, require differentiated pay to attract talented teachers and principals, mandate that Cleveland schools and unions begin future contract negotiations without carryover items from previous agreements, and provide targeted funding for year-round schools, high-performing charter schools and other initiatives.

Kasich with Mayor Jackson

Teachers unions have made clear they are opposed to many of the reforms. The Governor also hinted at what is needed strategically for him to include the Cleveland reforms. Saying there are things Jackson needs to get done in order for him to move this reform package through the legislature is code for the need to line up support from African-American Democratic legislators from Cleveland. This support will be essential to giving the Governor cover in the form of “bipartisan support” as he essentially introduces a plan to brings back many of the provisions of SB5 that were rejected by voters in November.
Also interesting in the Governor’s remarks were two references to Ohio’s “urban areas” rather than Cleveland, specifically. The Governor is often an open book, unable to keep secrets about his future plans. Perhaps he’s giving up a sneak preview about future plans to expand the Cleveland reforms statewide, once they’ve had a chance to demonstrate success. Or he’s planning to introduce a budget next week that will affect all urban districts? Time will tell, but it could be very interesting.

So it looks like we might have a re-hash of SB5 in an election year. This is probably not the sleepy legislative agenda that members of the General Assembly had in mind going into an election year. There is a reason we normally do budgets in non-election years. But John Kasich is not a normal Governor.

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