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Steve Dackin selected to lead Ohio Department of Education

DACKIN 16 BY 9.jpg
Ohio Department of Education
Steve Dackin, Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Ohio Department of Education.

The state board of education voted to appoint Steve Dackin as superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education.

Dackin, the former vice president of the state board of education, got the job with a 14-4 vote among the board members.

Before applying for the position, Dackin was leading the process to fill the role left open by the resignation of former state superintendent Paolo DeMaria.

There are lingering questions among critics about the access Dackin had to material submitted by other applicants.

While the other candidates had said they were concerned about political agendas in schools, Dackin said his top concern was learning loss from the pandemic.

Several groups and leaders congratulated Dackin on the new role.

The Ohio School Boards Association noted Dackin's more than 40 years of experience in educational leadership positions, which included six years as Reynoldsburg City School superintendent and a recent post as superintendent of school and community partnerships for Columbus State University.

"Steve has a storied career in education, with a demonstrated track record of improving education and achievement for students. We look forward to addressing these challenges together," the Ohio School Boards Association wrote in a statement.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a charter school sponsor and advocacy group, also commended Dackin's appointment.

Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy at the Fordham Institute said Dackin is "a proven leader who has throughout his career emphasized high expectations for all students and recognized the importance of empowering parents with high quality education options."

The search for a new state superintendent began after Paolo DeMaria announced in July 2021that he would retire. His last day with the department of education was September 21, 2021.

DeMaria became the fourth superintendent to take the helm of ODE in five years, but went on to serve in that post for five years under two different Ohio governors.

DeMaria took over as head of the education department in the middle of former Gov. John Kasich's time in office, then continued to serve during the first years of Gov. Mike DeWine's administration.

DeWine also released a statement in support of Dackin's appointment.

"I congratulate Steve Dackin on his selection as superintendent of public instruction by the State Board of Education. His experience, both as a member of the board and in public education, will help him be an effective voice for Ohio’s students and their parents as he leads the department of education," DeWine said in a statement.

Dackin was among 10 members of the State Board of Education who voted to rescind a resolution that was passed in July 2020, following the protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Seven members voted against taking back that resolution, which brought dozens of people to the board's meeting to make remarks for and against it.

The July 2020 resolution acknowledged "profound disparities between Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students and their white peers exist in all parts of the Ohio education system", that "progress to close these gaps has been uneven and unsatisfactory" and that "the path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of inequalities and inhumanity and how they have come to impact current society". It had been adopted by the board 12-5.

The resolution that was adopted in October 2021 noted that "the State Board seeks excellence in education for all children and families, without prejudice or respect to race, ethnicity, or creed". And while it still acknowledged the performance gaps between Black, Indigenous and people of color students and their White peers, it also "condemns any standards, curriculum, or training programs for students, teachers, or staff that seek to divide or to ascribe circumstances or qualities, such as collective guilt, moral deficiency, or racial bias, to a whole race or group of people".

That's similar to what Republican candidates have been saying about material that they consider in line with "critical race theory". The new resolution also noted that Attorney General Dave Yost said the board did not have the authority to require contractors with the state board of education take bias training.

Dackin, Martha Manchester and Charlotte McGuire had all voted for the resolution in July 2020 but then voted to rescind it and replace it with the new resolution in October 2021. Two board members, Laura Kohler and Eric Poklar, resigned after that resolution was rescinded.

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