K-12 Education

Joe has been tackling education issues since he started in the Senate. He believes every student deserves a high quality education that prepares them for the future. Joe works with educators to write bills that will make a real difference for our students.

Joe has been tackling education issues since he started in the Senate. He believes every student deserves a quality education that prepares them for the future.

Joe works with educators to write bills that will make a real difference for our students.

Joe’s Record on Education

Charter School Reform: Joe has introduced several bills to bring accountability and transparency to charter schools, including bills to:

  • Require charter schools to comply with the same audit and public records laws as traditional public schools.
  • Make sure students only transfer from traditional schools to charter schools if the charter school has a higher ranking.
  • Provide notice of a charter school’s report card to parents.
  • Prevent charter schools from using state money on advertising.
  • Prohibit failing charter operators from opening new schools in the same location as their closed schools.
  • In 2015, the Ohio Statehouse passed HB 2 into law. This comprehensive charter school reform bill incorporated many pieces of Joe’s bills.

Online School Reform: There is a reason that ECOT and its blog, 3rd Rail Politics, are constantly taking shots at Joe. He has made enemies in the right places by waging a constant battle at the Statehouse to bring accountability and transparency to online charter schools. Joe has been leading the charge on this issue for several years and sponsored legislation aimed at improving online charter schools.

Working with Students and Teachers to Create Good Policy: As Minority Leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Joe made it a priority to visit different types of schools around the state. He asked administrators, educators, parents, and students their thoughts on how to improve our education system. Then Joe turned those ideas into legislation. Learn more at DoingOurHomeworkOH.org.

Anti-Bullying: Joe successfully passed the “Jessica Logan Act” to address anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies in schools, especially as it relates to cyberbullying.

School Safety: Joe has introduced several bills to help fund school safety programs and grants. Click here and here for more.

Local Control: Joe knows from personal experience what happens when educators are not involved in education policy decisions. When Joe learned that Governor Kasich and Statehouse Republicans had planned a secret takeover of Youngstown City Schools, he drove from Youngstown to Columbus in the night to try and stop an unelected CEO from making decisions about Youngstown students without advice or support from the community.

After that, Joe met with educators and local leaders to craft a community-based bill to improve Youngstown Schools and keep educator input involved in the process.

Graduation Crisis: Too many Ohio students are at risk of not graduating due to impossible and ever-changing regulations coming from the Statehouse. Last year, after hearing from several passionate Ohio teachers, Joe pushed for a state budget amendment that would provide a safe harbor for thousands of seniors who had been harmed by Ohio’s shifting testing requirements.

Eventually, Joe and his colleagues were able to put enough pressure on the majority to provide more graduation pathways for the class of 2018. That was an important fix, but a temporary one. The legislature needs to address Ohio’s testing and education requirements soon in order to prevent a long-term graduation crisis.

Joe will continue to fight for Ohio students in the Senate and as governor. His plans include:

Proper school funding: School funding should be a priority, not an afterthought. For too long, we’ve drastically underfunded our schools and forced taxpayers to make up the difference through levies and increased local taxes. The state needs to take responsibility and invest in a Constitutional funding system once and for all.

Reining in standardized testing: The federal government requires only 17 tests, but Ohio mandates up to 26. It’s time to reduce the amount of testing to allow for more flexibility and individualized learning. Joe has had productive conversations with the Superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education about this, and he will keep working to decrease our reliance on standardized tests.

Accountability for online charter schools: Joe recognizes that some online charter schools (e-schools) can benefit students with unique circumstances, but thousands of e-school students fall through the cracks. That’s why Joe has introduced bills to create accountability and transparency for online charter schools, especially related to attendance. E-schools should be held to the same standards as brick-and-mortar schools, to make sure all kids are learning, no matter where they attend school.

Local control in education: Each community in Ohio has unique circumstances; it is vital that we maintain local control when it comes to education policymaking.  Educators, parents, and students deserve a voice when any state law change is made. Joe fought hard against the unelected CEO takeover of Youngstown City Schools, and he will do the same for every Ohio community going forward.

Meaningful changes to address poverty: There is a direct correlation between poverty and educational achievement.  Every year when report card scores come out, we see the trend: schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty have lower scores than schools in wealthier areas.  The achievement gap between rich and poor students will only grow unless the state makes an honest effort to implement policies that put our children first.  We must expand wraparound services in our schools to address barriers like access to food, healthcare, and career mobility that students face as a result of poverty.