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Less Standardized Tests, Emphasis On Vocational Training Part Of DeWine's Education Plan For Ohio

Andy Chow
Mike DeWine, Republican nominee for governor, sits in his campaign office in Columbus to roll out the specifics of his education plan.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine wants to reduce the amount of standardized testing in Ohio. That’s one of several goals DeWine laid out in his new education plan. 

In his plan for Ohio’s education system, DeWine wants to prepare students for college or for the job they want.

The Republican gubernatorial nominee says making sure kids are ready for college needs to start before they even start elementary school, through early childhood development. He says often times students from low-income areas or with adverse childhood experiences immediately start school at a disadvantage.

“We have an obligation I think to reach these kids and if we’re going to reach them we’ve got to do it very, very early,” says DeWine.

He stresses that an emphasis on higher standards upon graduation does not mean an emphasis on testing. In fact, he wants to find a way to reduce the amount of standardized tests administered in schools, and instead find other ways to measure student growth.

“Allowing teachers to teach the subject matter and to focus on that is very, very important and I think the pendulum, frankly, has swung too far towards the testing. You have to have tests, we’re having too many now,” DeWine says.

There’s also a component of DeWine’s plan that would add more attention towards vocational training. But DeWine urges he doesn’t want to make too many changes, saying teachers are looking for stability.

“We have to resist the temptation of constantly changing, you know, moving the goal line. Teachers just throw up their hands sometimes when they talk to me and say ‘just tell us what the rules are but for heaven’s sake stop changing them,’” he explains.

DeWine and the Republican slate of candidates have been under fire for their involvement with ECOT. The now-closed online charter school was caught overbilling the state by tens of millions of dollars for students they didn’t have. ECOT had operated for years without needing to prove student participation through log-in data.

DeWine says, as governor, he would implement a pay-for-performance model, to add accountability for taxpayer money.

“What we need to demand from the people who are running these schools is accountability and accountability means they don’t get paid until we find out what that child has learned,” DeWine says.

Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Richard Cordray has constantly attacked DeWine on this issue, saying he’s had eight years as Ohio Attorney General to hold ECOT accountable. While DeWine did appoint the attorney who represents the state in the case against ECOT, he only recently filed a civil lawsuit to collect at least $62 million from ECOT founder and prominent GOP donor Bill Lager.

DeWine counters that Cordray had his chance to take on ECOT when he was AG and didn’t do anything to hold the e-school accountable.

“I’m the only one who’s actually in fact taken action on behalf of the state department of education,” DeWine argues.

Cordray was asked to lay out his education plan but he was not available for comment. Instead, the campaign referred to the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which has endorsed Cordray.

OEA president Becky Higgins says, DeWine has laid out some measures they can agree on but says he has a track record of voting against increased school funding.

“He does have a history, we believe, of going against what is in the best interest of Ohio students,” says Higgins.

In contrast, Higgins says Cordray has an impressive understanding of what public schools need.

“He wants to halt the overreliance on standardized tests and he also wants to continue to rein in the poor performing charter schools,” Higgins says.

Cordray has yet to lay out an official education plan. However, he has mentioned several goals during his campaign, including a commitment to early childhood development, expanding universal pre-K, and encouraging wraparound services, which provides a network of support for students.

Along with ideas for Ohio’s K-12 system, DeWine wants colleges to freeze tuition for students upon enrollment, so their payments stay the same till they leave the school.  

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