Is it time for Ohio to have a serious (P-16) discussion on integrating its education and
Few would argue the importance of educating all of our students and preparing them for post- secondary education and the workforce. Ohio's goal is to have 65% of our population with a workforce certificate or college degree by 2025. How to accomplish this, however, is another issue.
Announced this week, new legislation would merge the state departments of Education, Higher Education and Workforce Transformation into one cabinet-level agency - called the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA) - with a director appointed by the governor. The 2,430 page bill will keep the state board of education and superintendent, as mandated by the Ohio Constitution, but reduces their authority to licensure, charter schools and discipline.
Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has said he would like to see the House pass the bill before it breaks for the campaign season at the end of May, but the bill is likely to engender considerable discussion. The Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials have already expressed several initial concerns with the proposal.
For now, the bill will go through the committee process. Because of the scope of the bill, extensive discussion is warranted. As this happens, interested parties may want to look at lessons learned in Stark County about preschool through college and work (P-16) systems of education, which essentially the new legislation represents.
In 2005, the Stark Education Partnership conducted a year-long research project on local, regional and state systems of P-16 education. While over a decade-old, it remains one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken. Noting that such systems, despite legislation, are fragile at best. One key strength of a P-16 is the inclusion of expertise across the preschool through higher education and workforce spectrum providing a voice to every constituent group.