The Lesson from Senate Bill 216
On March 21, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 216 by an overwhelming margin of 33-0. Referred to as the Ohio Public School Deregulation Act, S.B. 216 is designed to reduce the amount of unnecessary mandates and regulations affecting Ohio’s public schools. At a time in our country when our political system is caught up in a constant state of grid lock and unable to get anything done, this was a major feat. So, how did it happen and what can be learned from it? In a word, it was effort driven by a strategy of collaboration rather than confrontation. Rather than trying to pressure our state senators by throwing them under the bus with criticism about what they are currently doing or not doing, a small group of superintendents from western Ohio respectfully met with their state senator and began a frank and open discussion about some of the barriers getting in the way of teaching and learning in their local schools. This conversation was then expanded to other senatorial districts throughout the state until consensus was reached about what should be done. Yes, it was basically that simple. The lesson to be learned from S.B. 216 is there were no winners and losers. No bridges were burned. Instead, it was a win-win for everyone — especially our school children. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the stage has been set for more collaborative discussions.