Ohio

Eye on Education

Four Education Bills to Watch, and Why You Should Care

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THOTH 188 / FLICKR

State legislators are constantly crafting bills that could affect what students learn, the types of tests they take, and the length of the school year.

As we reported last month, one bill on the table would delay phasing out the Ohio Graduation Test.

And another bill could increase the number of calamity days districts can use.

But several others are also pending in the House and the Senate.

Read below for a snapshot of a few other bills up for discussion.

HB 8: Concealed Carry On School Grounds

Sponsor: Kristina Roegner (R)

3 things the bill would do:

  • Give school boards the authority to designate someone to carry a concealed handgun on school property
  • Increase training requirements for whoever carries the weapon, and keeps their name secret
  • Provide civil liability immunity for anyone who uses that weapon legally and causes injury or death

Why you should care:
Damon Asbury with the Ohio School Boards Association says state law gave school boards this authority years ago, but this bill would ensure the person carrying the weapon would be better trained and subject to a mental health examination.

Where the bill stands: already passed the House, up for debate in the Senate

SB 167: Ban Zero Tolerance Policies

Sponsors: Charleta Tavares (D), Edna Brown (D), Joe Schiavoni (D), Tom Sawyer (D)

2 things the bill would do:

  • Prevent school districts from using a zero tolerance policy that automatically expels a student for violent or disruptive behavior
  • Require school districts to adopt an alternative policy for deciding when a student should be suspended or kicked out; the policy must incorporate strategies that encourage prevention and provide counseling

Why you should care:
School districts largely expanded zero tolerance policies in the ’90s to quickly discipline students who were excessively truant, brought weapons or drugs to school, or demonstrated other inappropriate behavior.  Critics—including President Obama—say such policies disproportionately impact students of color and make it difficult for affected students to finish their education.  This law would give school districts more flexibility in deciding when to kick a student out, and require some sort of follow up for the student.

Where the bill stands: still in the hearing process in the Senate Education Committee

HB 334: Increase Expulsion Time

Sponsors: Bill Hayes (R), Jay Hottinger (R)

3 things the bill would do:

  • Allow superintendents to lengthen the expulsion period for students up to 180 days for those who pose an “imminent threat” to the health or safety of other students or staff
  • Require districts to set up a plan for that student to receive some level of education while expelled
  • Ensure the expelled student receives appropriate psychological or other help as needed

Why you should care:
In contrast to SB 167, this bill gives superintendents discretion to stiffen expulsion penalties for students.

“i don’t see superintendents going off the deep end with this,” says State Representative Bill Hayes. “This method of getting the child out of the school protects the other students and teachers, and it allows the child to still receive some education during their expulsion, and get the help that they need.”

It also requires superintendents to evaluate the student at the end of the expulsion period to decide if the student can be readmitted to the district.

Where the bill stands: still up for debate in the House Education Committee

HB 107: High School Internships

Sponsor: Nan Baker (R)

2 things the bill would do:

  • Enable businesses that provide internships for high school juniors and seniors the ability to receive a grant worth up to $5,000
  • Require participating businesses to qualify through the Development Services Agency and have substantial operations in Ohio

Why you should care:
With the state’s focus on ensuring more students are ready for the workforce, the idea here is to give businesses financial incentive to offer more meaningful, paid internship opportunities for high schoolers. The grants aren’t limited to any one type of business, and the business must employ the intern for at least 20 weeks and 200 hours worth of paid work.

Where the bill stands: passed the House, pending in Senate Finance Committee

Comments

  • Raul Simpson

    What happened to the bill to provide relief by modifying the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System? That proposal was barely a fix but provided some common sense resolutions. Ready the lawsuits if it doesn’t resurface.

  • naturewoman

    This goes to sow how little our legislators know about education., Ohio public schools are so badly underfunded yet they work on legislation that is so trivial. Can not wait to vote out Kasich in 2014 and as many of the republicans in state office as possible.

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