Although school has been out for quite awhile, a lot of what we have been working on at the Statehouse has been related to education. Especially in today’s society, attaining a strong education is critically important. Unfortunately, however, many of Ohio’s students need to take remedial classes upon entering college, which holds them back from taking classes more suited toward their career interests.

No one will deny that one of the most important skills students can learn is reading. Not being able to read drastically impairs young people from achieving success later in life. They are much less likely to graduate high school and their chances of being incarcerated greatly increase.

Governor Kasich recently signed Senate Bill 316, which is the education portion of the Mid-Biennium Review. The legislation includes many components geared toward helping people of all ages to improve education. Perhaps the most publicized part of the bill is the third grade reading guarantee, which requires students to meet third grade reading standards or else be held back.

Sadly, students are sometimes moved along in school even if they do not have the basic ability to read. This does a grave disservice for our youth. Elementary schools often provide the first opportunity for young people to gain the skills they will use later in life. All grade levels play an important role in this process. Therefore, schools will now be required to assess reading abilities in each grades K, 1, 2 and 3. In most cases, if a reading impairment is identified, it can be corrected within this window of time and the student will be able to advance to the next grade.

Another provision in the bill helps older people attain valuable skills for searching for jobs. The Learn to Earn program allows Ohioans to train with an employer while still receiving state unemployment checks. This is a positive change from the current format, which forces people training at another workplace to give up their unemployment checks. This system, understandably, led people to avoid seeking other jobs and training programs. Instead, people should have incentives to gain new employment quickly rather than waiting until their unemployment benefits to run out before beginning their job search.

Senate Bill 316 is an investment in Ohio’s future and will make a positive difference for citizens of all ages.


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