After attending many legislative hearings in person and watching even more full sessions on the Ohio Channel this year, I am convinced that the addition of teachers to the mix of elected officials can have a dramatic positive effect on the productivity of the Ohio House of Representatives. Among all of the various traits of teachers, two key attributes stand out.
Number one, a teacher’s knowledge doesn’t exist in the mastery of a narrowly defined area of expertise such as banking or law, but is instead required to be spread out across a wide array of topics and the way those topics interrelate. A teacher must be an expert at learning, not necessarily knowing.
Number two, and most important based on my observations, the ability of a teacher to organize and convey information using a variety of methods to large groups of immature and uncooperative individuals seems like exactly what we need in the Statehouse.
In two Ohio House districts that border Columbus we have teachers entered in the Democratic primaries for their respective House seats. In District 21, Dublin High School teacher Donna O’Connor, and in District 24, Upper Arlington teacher – and 2002 Ohio Teacher of the Year – Maureen Reedy.
Donna O’Connor (District 21) will easily be able to translate her extensive experience as a teacher of special education into the day-to-day work of a State Representative. Every day she is called upon to be an expert communicator with children, parents, administrators, and her peers. Donna brings a thoughtful perspective to her work and her commitment to being a lifelong learner will serve her well as she will be tasked with the huge responsibility of considering the vast effects of extremely diverse legislation on extremely diverse populations. O’Connor started out in teaching with both Elementary and Special Education certificates, continued her education at The Ohio State University and earned her Master of Arts in Educational Administration, subsequently adding on a license to allow her to be a school principal (at any level K-12).
Donna O’Connor is a candidate for House District 21 which is predominantly Dublin City and Worthington City, bordering Columbus to the North and Northwest.
Ohio House District 21 also includes parts of Columbus City, Norwich Township, Perry Township, Sharon Township, and Washington Township.
Bordering District 21 to the south is Ohio House District 24 represented by Upper Arlington teacher Maureen Reedy, the 2002 Ohio Teacher of the Year. Maureen has 29 years of classroom teaching experience and in the past year was a frequent speaker in support of public workers, including a guest spot on The Ed Show on November 7, the night before the election.
Aside from encompassing all of Upper Arlington and a large part of Hilliard, District 24 is a patchwork of pieces and parts of townships, villages, and cities (Brown Township, Columbus, Franklin Township, Harrisburg Village, Norwich Township, Perry Township, Pleasant Township, Prairie Township, Sharon Township, Washington Township).
Both Donna and Maureen have the desire and demonstrated skill set and now they deserve the opportunity to represent not only their communities, but all Ohioans. The legislature can’t figure out how to properly reform either education practices or funding in Ohio, so why not ask some education experts – teachers.
If you live in these two districts, I encourage you to engage in the process of helping them get their respective messages out. Teachers don’t have the backing of large corporations and aren’t financing their campaigns with bonuses from Lehman Brothers. These teachers represent a real grassroots movement that is requiring a massive sacrifice of what little free time they have.
There are other teachers around Ohio that have committed to run for elected office. If you live in a district that has a practicing educator on the ballot, I encourage you to assist them in their campaign.
Every day we entrust teachers with our future in the form of our children – it’s about time we entrusted these professional educators with the future of Ohio.