DeWine Proposes Education Agenda With a Twist

Can You Hear the Mouthpiece of Mediocrity Mike Dawson in the Proposal?

By John Corrigan


(COLUMBUS) Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Mike DeWine has unveiled an education policy that proposes substantially the same funding system as has been used by the Administration of Governor John R. Kasich and past Administrations with some key updates.


You can see the proposal here:


DeWine’s school funding approach is chocked full of political timebombs for the state’s Attorney General and former U.S. Senator.  He calls for a system that creates, “a more equitable funding system that directs state resources toward supportive services for children most in need.”  While campaigning in voter rich and traditionally Republican suburban areas of the state, this proposal appears to further distance state aide from suburban schools, which has led to large property tax increases over the past decade.


Public opinion polling shows suburban areas and particularly women voters are considering abandoning the GOP in 2018.  A school funding formula that further shifts state resources away from suburban schools to urban and rural schools is bound to cause concern for the DeWine-Husted campaign as they hunt for votes in the remaining two months of the campaign.


DeWine is proposing, although does not specify how he would accomplish, a shift away from the testing that has been the hallmark of Ohio’s “accountability measure” for education since the mid-1990’s. “The DeWine-Husted Administration will reduce the number of tests that students are required to take, and will provide parents and teachers with more meaningful and timely results. Under Mike DeWine’s leadership, Ohio will put more emphasis on teaching and learning, and develop a school report card that parents can understand.”


DeWine criticized standardized testing. “Standardized tests are limiting educator’s creativity and forcing them to a teach to a test. This interferes with a child’s ability to think creatively and problem solve.”  


However, despite his statement, DeWine is proposing more standardized testing but only for online charter school students. In a stunning proposal that may not be Constitutional, DeWine is calling for a radical switch in funding from enrollment, and now “participation” based funding of online schools, to a testing competency that would compensate schools after a student has passed a test. DeWine’s campaign stated, “The DeWine-Husted administration will establish a pay-for-performance model that requires course completion testing and competency before the electronic school is reimbursed. The school does not get paid unless the student receives the education the state is funding.”


Ohio’s school funding model is an enrollment based model, and the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that only online schools must meet a participation standard, not required of any other school district.  DeWine’s proposal on online education mirrors talking points advanced by Mike Dawson, who lobbies for three government funded school lobbies including Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, all taxpayer funded organizations that lobby against charter schools. Dawson at one time worked for DeWine and is extremely close to running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted.  


Functionally, online schools would be the only schools in Ohio that would require the passage of a competency examination in order to be funded. Evidence shows that students coming from the Big 8 school districts and transferring to online schools are behind in their educational attainment to begin with.   All other schools are funded based on enrollment that is set in one week in October of the school year, and never again checked. Every other school is not funded based on attendance, participation, nor competency. Only online schools would be discriminated against by the DeWine plan.


DeWine’s plan calls for more money for schools with poor and struggling students.  Since online and charter schools typically attracted poor and struggling students, it is not sure if they would benefit from this proposal, or just the traditional bricks and mortar public schools. No other mention of charter schools was made in the DeWine plan.


As to the Constitutionality of the DeWine proposal, The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that all students have to have equal access to education, and the DeWine testing competency standard would appear to violate that principle. DeRolph v. Ohio, 1997 specifically stated that students across Ohio must have equal access to education, as did the subsequent DeRolph follow up cases until the Supreme Court dismissed the case.  Either all Ohio students must take and pass tests in order for their school to be funded, or none, if DeRolph is the law of the land, and it has not been altered since the last decision in 2002.


The DeWine plan also proposes to further modernize Ohio classrooms, increase shared services between districts and educational service centers, create a larger emphasis and with more programming for career technology centers, implement DeWine’s drug education program in K-12, and hire more mental health professionals in school districts.


The election for Governor is November 6, 2018, where DeWine meets Democrat Richard Cordray.