Those of you who have read my newspaper columns regularly over the past two years probably know that when I’m not writing about the economy and how we can create more jobs in Ohio, I’m probably writing about education and preparing our young people for success. This was nearly a guarantee from before I was even sworn in as state representative, having been a former school board president.

Early on during the 129th General Assembly, the Ohio House passed legislation to provide our local schools with more flexibility. This included the first bill I sponsored that was passed by the House, which restored school calamity days. Now that we are nearing the end of the year—and this legislative session—the House has passed additional legislation to encourage the high performance and achievement of Ohio students.

House Bill 555 creates a new academic performance rating system for public schools that will make their overall performance more clear-cut—with an A through F grading system. This school report card system is based on a variety of measures. These include keeping track of graduation rates how prepared our high school graduates are for college, monitoring the literacy progress of K-3 students, measuring student progress and achievement status, and closing the achievement gaps among students.

Having sat in on many hours of testimony on this bill in the House Education Committee, I firmly believe that this is a more comprehensive way of evaluating our public schools. But the bill also creates a new evaluation process for community school sponsors that raises expectations for the community schools’ performance.

My experience on a school board tells me that it is not always easy for a school to adapt to change. This is understandable under any scenario, but I am confident that this new rating system is a step in the right direction for Ohio students, and I believe that this is why the bill received bipartisan support.

We have an obligation to prepare the next generation of leaders in our state. Although not everyone can agree on every issue, I’m glad we can at least agree that we all want what is best for the children. To be responsive to their needs, we need to be tough on ourselves and enact the policies that will make us better off down the road. I have made that one of the goals during my time in office, and I’m proud with what the Ohio House has accomplished.


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