Senate Democrats Intensify Call For Education As A Statewide Priority
Two new reports cite Ohio for education failures
January 08, 2016
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Columbus – In light of two separate reports criticizing Ohio’s failure to provide and support quality education, today Senate Democrats renewed their call for bipartisan action. They also vowed to continue their ongoing fight to make education and related poverty concerns a statewide priority.

The Columbus Dispatch reported this week that, in just six years, the ranking of Ohio’s education system has dropped from 5th to 23rd in the nation. The statistics were based on a report by the education trade publication Education Week. The report also found that Ohio’s achievement gap between rich and poor students has increased in recent years.

In addition, the Cleveland Plain Dealer cited a report by the nonprofit group Young Invincibles, which graded Ohio at an “F” for support of public higher education.

“These reports are not surprising to those of us who see firsthand the effects that poverty and an underfunded education system have on student achievement,” said Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). "Over the past few months, Senate Democrats have visited schools throughout the state on our Columbus to the Classroom tour. We’ve seen proof that education must be a legislative priority, and we cannot improve educational outcomes without taking a broad approach that puts our children first." 

“Ohio is failing to make strides in primary, secondary, and higher education,” stated Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus). “There are glaring disparities for children who live in poverty and come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. We must do a better job targeting children who are experiencing challenges to ensure that there is parity in achievement. Every child has a right to a high quality education.”

“Based on 40+ years of involvement in education policy, I believe the foundation of our achievement gap lies primarily in the hands of poverty. I have fought for policies to address this,” said Senator Tom Sawyer, ranking member on the Senate Education Committee. “It’s infuriating that some policymakers are only now discovering the link between poverty and learning gaps.  This has been a theme for Jonathon Kozol and other leading thinkers in education reform for decades.  To paraphrase an old quote: ‘It’s great to tell kids to pull themselves up by their own boot straps, but you better put boots on them first.’”

Senate Democrats have introduced multiple bills and amendments aimed at improving education outcomes and decreasing childhood poverty. Members of the caucus have also been traveling around the state to ask students, parents, and educators their thoughts on how to best improve education in Ohio. This ongoing listening tour, titled, “Columbus to the Classroom: Doing our homework on Ohio schools,” has so far visited schools in the Columbus, Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, and Cleveland areas.

Attached is a list of bills and amendments introduced by Senate Democrats in the current General Assembly to address education funding, hunger, and poverty. 

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