This past November, Mr. Nick Owens was elected to the Ohio State Board of Education for the 10th district. He visited the Milford school district for a special welcome reception prior to the board meeting. He also introduced himself during the presentation portion of the meeting.
Mr. Owens was asked two questions during the reception. The first was how he feels about state testing. He says he has received a number of contacts re: this topic, and most were from Milford (good job, Milford community!). He does feel we have a visionary, collaborative state superintendent in Dr. Paolo DiMaria, who is committed to listening to and incorporating public input.
The feeling from stakeholders (school administrators, teachers, community members) was unhappiness that testing was not addressed in the first draft of the Every School Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan for the state of Ohio (the state’s ESSA plan will eventually be filed with the federal government). Dr. DiMaria has put together a task force to assess this and revise the plan.
One big question is regarding the number of tests: Ohio requires 24, although Federal requirements are only 17. However, Mr. Owens says, what do you do away with? Everything is important, yet every test also creates a spiral of other effects and, in his words, “Feeds the beast” [of testing].
The second question was about his perceptions of state funding and the Governor’s currently proposed budget. He believes the mechanisms to fund public schools are a mess. He does not agree with the transportation reduction, and he doesn’t believe teacher internships will remain in the requirements. He has seen smaller and rural districts in his jurisdiction take a hit, and he says we must be cognizant of the effects on those areas when developing and approving a budget.
During the meeting, Mr. Owens talked about a few additional subjects. He continued discussions re: ESSA, saying it is not currently a solid plan. He also feels teacher evaluations need to be revamped to be more fair and beneficial to both teachers and students.
He explained that a work group was convened in December to evaluate the graduation requirement. With the new three pathways, current juniors especially are caught in a bad place – they have not had time to accumulate the points needed as they were stuck in the middle of the changeover. He does believe an Ohio high school diploma should mean something, but it must also be attainable. He feels the work group will come back with some solid recommendations in the spring.
Finally, he touched on school choice, which he says he is 100% in favor of, with a caveat: he does not believe we should be diverting tax dollars from a district to a lower-performing school, which he says is happening too often.
Mr. Owens promised to stay in touch and be there for Milford residents. If you have questions, comments, or any sort of input, please feel free to get in touch with him via email at Nick.Owens@education.ohio.gov or phone at (614) 728-2754.