Week in Review - 05/18/2018

Week in Review - 05/18/2018

EDUCATION

Attorney General Mike DeWine's office said Friday he filed a consumer protection lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court over allegations against Discovery Tours that the company took money for services it didn't provide. The company recently shut down and left many schools and families scrambling in the wake of cancelled trips. DeWine's office said an investigation revealed the company kept taking money even when it knew it wouldn't be able to deliver. In the past several days, the attorney general has received more than 700 complaints.


The Republican candidate for Ohio governor said Monday he would be at least as assertive as the current and previous governors in pressing his agenda for K-16 learning -- a top priority of his prospective administration -- despite language in the Ohio Constitution guaranteeing an independent state superintendent and State Board of Education. Attorney General Mike DeWine, however, would not commit to the kind of education overhaul contemplated by HB512 (Reineke), at least at this time.


After consecutive meetings full of questions on the mechanics and validity of using artificial intelligence to grade student essays on state English tests, Superintendent of Education Paolo DeMaria invited a testing expert who advises Ohio to brief State Board of Education members on the topic Monday. Gregory Cizek, professor of educational measurement and evaluation at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, emphasized the benefits of machine scoring -- consistency, objectivity, cost -- while repeatedly assuring the board that humans exert great control over the process and have multiple chances to double-check the computer's results.


Seeing an opportunity to weigh in on current legislation while continuing to develop long-term recommendations, the State Board of Education's report card workgroup gave general approval for the state superintendent and the Ohio Department of Education to provide potential testimony on HB591 (Duffey). Faced with rumors that the bill could be moving quickly -- perhaps even receiving a floor vote in the House before the Legislature breaks for summer -- members of the workgroup covered several topics related to the report card that would be changed by HB591, providing Superintendent Paolo DeMaria some context, should he be asked to weigh in on the bill.


After two hours of discussion Tuesday, the State Board of Education approved the measurement of absenteeism as an indicator on school report cards. Members in support of the resolution stressed that the board needed to authorize absenteeism as a school report card indicator to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and if the resolution was not approved, Ohio could face repercussions from the federal government, including the loss of $750 million in Title I funding.


Following Auditor of State Dave Yost's release of findings that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) may have willfully inflated enrollment numbers to get state funding, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is calling on the U.S. Department of Education inspector general to initiate a federal investigation.


Opened recently and running for nearly a month longer, the public auction of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) assets offers everything from its headquarters building to furniture, garbage cans, and cars. All items available for bid are listed at www.ecotauction.com . The sale is being organized by Gryphon USA. It closes Tuesday, June 12.


ELECTIONS

All of the witnesses on SB135, legislation that provides funding for new voting machines throughout the state, delivered the same message to the House Finance Committee Wednesday: this legislation can't be passed soon enough. Chief sponsor Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) -- the Republican candidate for secretary of state in the fall -- laid out a timetable that had counties getting the new machines no later than early 2019 so they can be used in the 2019 "lower demand" elections and ahead of the 2020 presidential election.


ELECTIONS 2018

Beyond the main headlines about who won and lost, the recent primary election reflected a number of tidbits about Ohio's electorate and political climate, including the fact that Republicans saw higher turnout in the high-profile gubernatorial primaries, that this year's congressional redistricting ballot issue got more support than 2015's General Assembly redistricting issue, and that most incumbents prevailed in legislative races despite lots of "outsider" rhetoric.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Wednesday's Senate session included passage of SB246 (Lehner-Manning), limiting suspensions and expulsions for young children.


In other legislative action, House Education and Career Readiness Committee reported out HB517 (Schaffer-Leland), designating October as "Ohio Principals Month"; House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB513 (Brenner-Ginter), regarding the homestead exemption; Senate Education Committee reported out HB438 (Hambley-Kick), regarding educational service centers; and Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee reported out HB338 (Ginter), regarding medical examinations for school bus drivers.