The Rundown

Ohio lawmaker polls: Governor should decide education leader, state laws should regulate bathrooms

By: - June 14, 2023 4:50 am
The Ohio Department of Education in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

The Ohio Department of Education in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Recent polling of the Ohio General Assembly showed majority lawmaker support for executive-branch level selection of the new Ohio Department of Education leader, and legislative regulation of school bathroom policies.

The polling, conducted regularly by Gongwer News Service and Werth PR, showed expected partisan splits on issues regarding education, children, and parents.

Democrats polled by Gongwer/Werth were 100% against regulation of transgender bathroom policies, while 78% of Republicans supported the concept. Of Republicans polled, 13% were against the regulation, and 9% were undecided.

The polling comes as legislation against allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, along with bills against gender-affirming care for minors and transgender students playing sports with the gender with which they identify.

When it comes to who should appoint the leader of the Ohio Department of Education, 50% of all survey participants said the governor should make the call, 26% said the Ohio State Board of Education should maintain authority in that area, and 24% couldn’t decide.

Only 8% of Republican legislator participants said the board of education should make the choice, with 68% picking the governor for the selection process.

On the Democratic side, 77% want the state board of ed to do it, and 23% were undecided. None of those Democrats polled chose the governor as the leader of the process.

The opinions will matter as the budget process continues, as the most recent version of the budget bill, brought by the Ohio Senate, adds language from Senate Bill 1, legislation currently being considered that would restructure the Ohio Department of Education into the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce. The language would put the leaders of DEW under the purview of the governor’s office.

A majority of legislators polled agreed Ohio should define a preferred method of reading instruction, as the governor and other education officials push the “science of reading” as their preferred method.

A slim majority (47%) said Ohio should keep holding third-graders back if they aren’t proficient in reading by the end of the school year, something legislators have been debating in bills currently active in the Statehouse.

Democrats and Republicans are unsurprisingly split on the issue, with 58% of GOP survey takers saying the students should be held back, and 55% of Democrats going the other way.

This version corrects a spelling error in a previous version of the article.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.