March Legislative Update

As we begin the first half of 2016 with the looming presidential primary election on the horizon, the Ohio Legislature has slowed down with few major bills drafted or introduced because many of the members are now in campaign mode. Similar to every election year, many legislators are in their districts knocking on doors and listening to the concerns of the voters who elect them. While this provides time for advocates to catch our collective breath, it merely represents the calm before the storm. The legislature will reconvene in late March and activity will intensify before the summer break when they are again off campaigning for the November general elections.

Recent OAPCS advocacy highlights this past quarter include activities related to National School Choice Week and ongoing assessments of pending legislation. During National School Choice Week, held January 26-29, I joined OAPCS’ Director of Membership and Development, Tisha Reynolds, at the Statehouse for a day of advocacy. We would like to thank Zenith Academy for putting together an art quilt with student pictures that we shared with House and Senate leadership. Photos of the day can be viewed here. I would also like to thank all the schools that had students write cards for the legislators, as they all loved reading them. OAPCS staff also participated in many school activities across the city celebrating choice.

In February, we identified bills now pending or moving through committee that have connections to charter schools. If something catches your eye from this list, please reach out to me. The full list and bill descriptions are here. The following bills are those deemed as a priority for OAPCS:

  • House Bill 113 – Requires instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator as a requirement for high school graduation.
  • House Bill 146 – Requires instruction in cursive handwriting.
  • House Bill 212 – Addresses state achievement assessments, statewide academic content standards and model curricula, and teacher and administrator evaluations.
  • House Bill 410 – Addresses habitual and chronic truancy and compulsory school attendance.
  • House Bill 420 – Prohibits the Department of Education from including students who “opt-out” of state assessments in calculations of certain grades in the state report card and to declare an emergency.
  • Senate Bill 3 – Exempts high-performing school districts from certain laws. (Note: SB 3 has become a broader bill than the explanation provided, meaning various topics will be addressed outside of the description.)

We identified these bills as “priority” because of the probability that they may receive more than one hearing and the possibility of the bill moving quickly through the legislative process. It is important to hear from our members about legislation you either have interest in or that could adversely affect your ability to provide a high quality education for your students.

With the recent passage and presidential signature on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Ohio, like all states, is required to prepare a response and timeline for related requirements of the bill. This federal legislation will have an impact on testing, standards and how federal funding is allocated. The bill is over 1,000 pages long and the Ohio Department of Education and State Board of Education are currently processing the state response. For more details on the state plan and how charter schools will be affected, click here. As the Ohio plan emerges, we will update you accordingly.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Thank you for continuing to serve the nearly 125,000 students who have made the choice to attend your schools.

As always, I appreciate member feedback and welcome your comments. Contact me at or call 614-744-2266 ext. 210.