Education Policy: A Board Member Perspective

The Honorable John Kasich
Governor of Ohio
77 South High Street
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Dear Governor Kasich,

As a local school board member from northern Ohio, I am writing to share some concerns I have with education and transportation. Why transportation, you ask? Because, Sir, you have thrown myself and every single local school board member in Ohio under the bus. I am specifically referring to statements you made during an interview on January 25th while a guest on Fox News. It is quite troubling that this ninety second interview can be packed full of so many inconsistencies and blame. You call out fellow Republican Governors for speaking up and claim they are silent when you question where you are wrong. Well, Sir, this Republican has done his research and I feel that many of your statements are deceiving and simply just wrong.

While I have major concerns with the style and amount of standardized testing, I am not completely opposed to the standards themselves. However, this was not a local grassroots, bottom up reform as you indicated. This movement was a top-down initiative and tied to federal money. If this were developed locally as you claim, I’m confident that our local school board would have insisted on more representation than 2 out of the 164 professionals who worked to develop and validate the Common Core State Standards. Instead we are forced to follow our “state” standards that were developed with 1.25% state representation and 0% local representation.

You were correct in stating that our local school boards select curriculum. However you fail to mention that this curriculum must follow the national/state standards and the testing that is tied with it. We would be doing our local children even more of a disservice if we chose any curriculum that did not specifically follow the national/state standards and testing. That would be like teaching them how to be hot dog vendors when the state tests ask them how to make cheeseburgers. This is far from local control.

I believe that a lot of the public outcry regarding education could have been minimized or avoided completely with better timing and implementation. In the last 2 years we have introduced the Common Core State Standards, Ohio New Learning Standards, Third Grade Reading Guarantee, Teacher/Principal Evaluation, and PARCC. Besides being a ton of major changes to enforce at once, the state has failed to learn from other charter states regarding best implementation practices.

The state needs to take a hard look at the amount of testing and particularly the PARCC assessment. I am confident that you would see major improvements and support by eliminating the PARCC assessment. While I appreciate a single test that measures both student growth and teacher accountability, the PARCC test is full of poor content and developmentally misaligned material. Give us a test that is fair to our children and teachers and I guarantee we can sell it locally.

We are a unique, hard-working community and our administration and staff reflect the dedication and morals that our community values. Inside and outside of the classroom, our community is the best defined by the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” We need to regain control of this testing both locally and as a state.

Sincerely,
Benjamin Gibson
VP Firelands Local Schools

bgibson@firelandsschools.org