Week in Review > Week In Review 9-11-23

Posted by on September 11th, 2023


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently published guidance for implementation of a new law included in the budget bill changing how schools can make up for lost in-person class days with remote learning. The final version of HB33 (Edwards) includes a Senate-added provision to repeal the old “blizzard bag” law allowing schools to post online or send home in paper form lessons to be completed when school is closed for weather or other hazards. It was replaced with language requiring schools to adopt by Aug. 1 of each academic year a plan to provide online instruction to make up the equivalent of up to three days of missed school. The plans are required to include provision of real-time, interactive instruction to the extent possible and attendance requirements and documentation. The new law takes effect Tuesday, Oct. 3, and ODE is urging schools to update their calamity day plans by Wednesday, Nov. 1.


The new Department of Children and Youth (DCY) is driving to meet goals in key areas within its first three months while starting to sketch out additional focus areas, Director Kara Wente told Hannah News in an interview about implementation of the agency created in HB33 (Edwards). Wente started the year as head of children’s initiatives for Gov. Mike DeWine, then carried the torch for his budget proposal to create DCY and was named its head weeks after enactment of the bill. She came with experience from the kindergarten readiness group Future Ready Columbus and time as a top official at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Wente set targets in a few areas for the first 90 days of the agency’s development. DCY has until the beginning of 2025 to completely absorb the child-focused programs it is taking over from several other cabinet agencies. Initial planning focused on expansion of early childhood education as funded in HB33; Step Up to Quality (SUTQ) equal access efforts; central intake; home visiting; and alignment of licensing. The first eight weeks of work have not changed the initial goals, Wente said Tuesday. “We’re not recalibrating. We’re driving for the next 25 days to hit those plans and then know what’s happening in the next 90 days, six months, because most of them will have a phased approach,” she said. “Then we’ll pick up a couple of new building blocks to do very similar work with.” On the horizon for DCY are efforts related to youth mental health and child welfare system placements.


The nation added 187,000 jobs in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though the national unemployment rate rose from July’s 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent in August. The rise in the unemployment rate was largely due to an increase of 514,000 unemployed persons to 6.4 million. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent and the number of unemployed persons was 6.0 million. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) rose in August. The jobless rates for adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (12.2 percent), Blacks (5.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) showed little change over the month. Both the number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks, at 2.2 million, and the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.3 million, edged up in August. The long-term unemployed accounted for 20.3 percent of all unemployed persons.


Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office got a lot of inquiries about what constitutes support when he surveyed schools on whether they were backing litigation over state school vouchers, plus some pushback. Local school officials involved in the lawsuit released a raft of records from Faber’s office Tuesday, saying the survey, sent at the Senate’s request, was an attempt to bully them and discourage participation in the legal battle. Faber’s office retorted that resistance to providing basic information on public funds sought by the survey raises questions in itself. A coalition of school districts and resident families had filed suit in early 2022 to challenge the constitutionality of the EdChoice scholarship program, alleging it violates the constitutional guarantee of a “common” school system and constitutional prohibitions on giving control of education funding to religious sectors. During budget deliberations, Senate Republicans’ top lawyer, Matthew Oyster, sent a letter in May to Faber’s office asking him to compile a report on schools’ and educational service centers’ financial support for the litigation. Records of correspondence by Faber’s staff released by the litigants at the press conference Tuesday showed the auditor’s staff acted promptly to answer the Senate’s request. Faber Chief of Staff Sloan Spalding wrote back two days later that the office would “get a plan in place to gather and report back to the Senate on this information — right away.”

Mark Lowrie, a broadcast journalism teacher at Gahanna Lincoln High School in Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, is the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) said. Interim Superintendent Chris Woolard visited the Gahanna school Thursday morning to surprise Lowrie with the award. Lowrie was a TV sports producer and editor in Northeast and Central Ohio before starting a teaching career in 2001 in Amherst, where he spent 18 years directing the high school broadcasting program until moving to Gahanna-Jefferson in 2019. There, he has designed four new courses and grown enrollment in the program from 27 to more than 130 students. Lowrie’s students have earned numerous national and regional Student Production Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). Lowrie was one of 11 regional honorees representing State Board of Education districts named in August, and competed for the statewide honor along with three other finalists: Joseph Miller of Port Clinton City Schools; Andrea Novicky of Springfield Local Schools; and Shanti’ Coaston of Westlake City Schools. Lowrie will now represent Ohio in the 2024 National Teacher of the Year selection process sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The Ohio Association of Career and Technical Education (Ohio ACTE) announced its new slate of Executive Board members for 2023-2024. They are as follows:

– President Mike Parry, representing Grant Career Center

– President-elect Brian Bontempo, representing Auburn Career Center

– Secretary Krista Gearhart, representing South Stark Career Academy

– Treasurer Liz Jensen, representing Kettering-Centerville-Oakwood Compact

– Immediate Past President Jon Graft, representing Butler Tech

– Ohio ACTE Executive Director Dee Smith


Teachers and other education professionals could deduct substantially more from their federal income taxes to help offset the cost of supplies they buy for their students and classrooms under legislation being introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown joined a Clark County teacher on a press teleconference Wednesday to announce plans for the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act of 2023, which would increase the deduction from $250 to $1,000 and make other professionals like administrators and aides eligible to seek it. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Angus King (I-ME) are co-sponsoring the bill. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) are expected to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House.


Twenty-eight schools were named in the first group of Ohio colleges, universities, and technical centers to earn the Ohio Reach Postsecondary designation for efforts to support foster care-connected students. The Ohio Reach Postsecondary designation was established in the spring and is awarded to campuses that meet certain criteria for supporting students with experience in foster care or kinship. The state’s Ohio Reach network, administered through the Ohio Children’s Alliance, provides resources to institutions of higher education, child welfare agencies and foster care alumni enrolled in higher education.

Former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Cleveland Major Justin Bibb are the featured speakers at the annual Leadership Forum hosted by the Ohio State University (OSU) John Glenn College of Public Affairs. “The purpose of the Leadership Forum is to provide meaningful coverage of current and emerging trends in leadership, public administration and public policy. Programing is both practical and insightful for public and nonprofit professionals in all sectors. Each year, the forum features inspirational and informative keynote talks by nationally known thought leaders and includes an array of faculty and practitioner-led breakout sessions,” the university said. The conference will take place Friday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Ohio Union at Ohio State.

West Virginia University (WVU) President E. Gordon Gee plans to step down when his contract expires in 2025, according to multiple media reports. Gee served two stints as president of Ohio State University (OSU), first from 1990 to 1998 and more recently from 2007 to 2013. He held similar roles at Vanderbilt University, Brown University and the University of Colorado. Gee, 79, is in his second tenure at West Virginia that began in 2014. He also was the school’s president from 1981 to 1985. Gee announced his plans earlier this month after the WVU Board of Governors extended his contract by one year to June 2025.


Policy Matters Ohio’s annual of “State of Working” report found a strong labor market more favorable to working people than at any time since the Great Recession; however, the report also shows the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been uneven, with most of the strong job growth concentrated around a few metro areas. Data show Ohio recovered to pre-COVID job levels in May 2023 and posted the highest number of jobs in the state’s history by July, with 5,639,200 jobs reported, according to preliminary numbers. “Recovering the jobs lost to COVID-19 in less than half the time it took to recover jobs from the Great Recession is a triumph for good public policy. Whereas the prior recovery was slowed by austerity policies that choked off government spending when it was needed most, the federal response to the COVID recession was scaled to the size of the crisis,” Policy Matters states in the report. The left-leaning public policy research group said Ohio is experiencing the tightest labor market in a generation, estimating there are two job openings per unemployed worker. This tight labor market, the report says, is “vital to restore decades of suppressed wage growth, during which workers produced more wealth than ever, but corporations and the wealthiest captured most of the gains.”

Posted by on September 11th, 2023

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