An Update on the Ohio Initiative
As I reported in an earlier blog, 60 superintendents met in Columbus on November 21 of last year to discuss an initiative that I believe will prove to be historically significant for the children who attend Ohio’s public schools. The initiative is to provide citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy, and it is being led by a coalition of superintendents from 29 school districts in the Buckeye State. Following the November meeting, I asked the participants to share their insights and suggestions, and here is what I learned. The vast majority of superintendents are well aware that Ohio’s public schools are being overwhelmed by our state’s education reform movement and many, if not most, of them clearly realize the urgency of the situation and believe it is time for them to do something about it. There is also widespread support for expanding this grass roots initiative to include other school districts in Ohio. While many of the superintendents who met in Columbus intend to utilize the educational documentary, “Rise Above the Mark,” and the book, America’s Schools at a Turning Point, as tools for setting the stage for staff and community dialogue, they also feel they need to be one unified voice and focus on how education reform in Ohio is impacting their own schools and communities. An insightful cautionary note raised by one superintendent is “not to get too far out in front of our communities” in building grass roots strategies to help shape the future of education reform. Since most people know very little about what has been happening to their schools, they first need to be given time to reflect upon the impact of the reform mandates currently in place. Then, they need to be provided with an opportunity to help create the strategies required to make their voices heard by our education policymakers. As the saying goes, people only own what they help create.
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