Week in Review > Week in Review 09-18-2020Posted by Kevin Miller on September 18th, 2020
Report cards the state issued Tuesday for local school districts lack grades and much of the underlying data that would be needed to calculate them, though some performance comparisons are available for measures based on lagged statistics. Lawmakers are considering whether to extend the testing suspension and report card safe harbor. Gov. Mike DeWine weighed in, saying on Tuesday he has stronger feelings on the former. He said parents need information on students’ performance in this unusual situation, but as to ratings or sanctions of schools based on those tests, “I’m not sure that’s really important.”
Bipartisan Senate legislation on granting flexibility to schools during the pandemic drew some pushback Wednesday for its suggestion to cancel state testing this school year, with witnesses saying data on student learning would be important while agreeing with the bill’s call not to impose any sanctions based on test data. Meanwhile, Chairwoman Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) shared with the Senate Education Committee a series of amendments in search of a legislative vehicle to address additional concerns posed by the pandemic that have been identified by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Wednesday was the second hearing for SB358, the proposal from Sens. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) to continue suspension of academic testing and state report card grades, among other provisions.
The state’s dashboard on COVID-19 cases in schools went live Thursday, with Gov. DeWine saying it provides parents with another source of information but cautioning that positive cases may not reflect a failure on the part of school officials given the level of community spread around Ohio. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) also has a dashboard on general cases involving children, and both are available at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/overview.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for an increase in support from the federal government for schools Wednesday, charging President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with “abandoning” parents, students, and educators at a time of national crisis. During a news conference with reporters, Brown said that as many schools are beginning to reopen, they do not have adequate funding to keep students and teachers safe while delivering a quality education. Brown has called for at least $175 billion to help support K-12 students and schools during the pandemic. He also urged Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pass the Heroes Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May and includes approximately $90 billion for public K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
The recently enacted law under which residents of a Stark County village sought to transfer school districts is unconstitutional because it was inserted into the state budget in violation of the Ohio Constitution’s single-subject rule, a U.S. District Court judge ruled. In HB166 (Oelslager), lawmakers created a new territory transfer process by which residents of a township spilt between two or more districts can petition for transfer to another by gathering signatures for at least 10 percent of voters in the territory to be transferred. The proposal would then be placed on the ballot for approval of voters living in the territory. If the issue passes, the State Board of Education would then approve the proposal, and unlike in other territory transfers does not have any discretion in the matter.
Ohio State University (OSU) recently announced it will cancel spring break next semester in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The university is spending approximately $2 million per week on coronavirus tests. Classes for the spring 2021 semester will begin as scheduled on Monday, Jan. 11, but will take place online for the first week to give OSU community members time to quarantine before returning to the mix of in-person, online and blended teaching that the university is currently using.
The Big 10 Council of Presidents and Chancellors unanimously voted to start the football season the weekend of Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24, the conference announced Wednesday. Newly adopted medical protocols include daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and requiring a “data-driven approach” when making decisions about practice and games, the Big 10 Conference said.
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