Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine talked about the various education pieces of his proposed budget to Ohio school board members Tuesday morning at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square.
DeWine talked about school funding, literacy, career tech schools, and higher education at the State Legislative Conference, which included the Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and Buckeye Association of School Administrators.
DeWine expressed his hope that the Fair School Funding Plan — which has been phased in for two years, and another two years would be implemented in the 2024-2025 budget — goes fully into effect.
“My intention will be to continue, as long as I’m governor, to continue to move forward and to finish that job,” he said. “In this budget we proposed we’re on track and on schedule.”
Forty percent of Ohio’s third-grade students are not proficient in reading and 33% of third graders were not proficient in reading even before COVID-19, DeWine said.
“Reading is really the key,” he said. “It is a key to get inside the door of everything else in life. And if you cannot read or cannot read very well, you’re going to just not be able to fully live up to your God given potential.”
DeWine’s proposed budget includes a $162 million science of reading proposal that includes $64 million for science of reading curricula, $43 million each year for the next two years to offer science of reading instruction for educators, and $12 million to support 100 literacy coaches in schools and districts.
The science of reading is based on decades of research that shows how the human brain learns how to read.
“Providing students high quality, evidence-based literacy instruction aligned with the science of reading is the key,” DeWine said.
He said his budget would cover the stipends for teachers to participate in professional development so they could learn the science of reading to better teach their students how to read. It’s unclear how many Ohio teachers have not been taught the science of reading, he said.
“We need to make a dramatic change,” he said.
DeWine said the Ohio Department of Education does not track what percentage of students are learning how to read based on the science of reading.
“I’m concerned about the places where they’re not (teaching the science of reading),” he said.
Along that same vein, DeWine mentioned a new dyslexia screening tool.
All Ohio students in kindergarten through third grade will be screened for the risk of dyslexia starting next school year. All kindergarteners will be screened annually in the years to come as well as first through sixth grade students who transfer school districts. Students in first through sixth grade will also be screened if a parent or teacher requests it. The Ohio Dyslexia Committee came up with the Ohio Dyslexia Guidebook for schools to follow.
“I think that’s the state’s responsibility to pay for that,” DeWine said. “We want all of Ohio children and families to have access to high quality, evidence based literacy instruction.”
Career technical schools and higher education
DeWine talked about how he spent time visiting career technical schools earlier in the school year and noticed they were full, preventing some students from getting into high-demand programs
“We have to fix that,” DeWine said. “And we’re not gonna fix it overnight, but I think everybody wants to fix it.”
His proposed budget has a $200 million one-time infusion of money to go to career technical schools that can be used for equipment or to expand their facilities.
On the topic of higher education, DeWine said he wants to increase the number of college students in Ohio.
His proposal would give $5,000 per year scholarships to any Ohio high school student who graduates in the top 5% of their class and chooses to attend an in-state college or university.
“I’m very, very optimistic about Ohio,” DeWine said. “Looking down the pipeline of jobs, of companies that may be coming to Ohio, it’s good. It’s not going to stop. It’s going to keep coming.”
Meaning it’s the state’s job to fill those jobs, he said, underscoring the importance of investing in Ohio students.
“Every kid in the state needs to have the opportunity to live up to their potential and find something they love to do to live whatever their version is of the American dream,” DeWine said.
During a gaggle with reporters after his speech, DeWine wouldn’t say who he might appoint to head the Department of Education if he gains the ability to do so. Senate Bill 1, which passed the Senate earlier this month, would give the governor’s office control of ODE.
“We want someone whose philosophy, frankly, would be aligned to mine,” he said. “In regards to education, someone who has experience, someone who knows what it’s like to be out into the schools.”
He mentioned that he thinks Stephanie K. Siddens, ODE’s interim state superintendent of public instruction, is “doing a very good job.”
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