As we’ve pointed out over the last couple of days, Ohio’s private schools are exempt from the same level of standardized testing requirements that are stressing out teachers, students, and parents in the public schools. These exemptions occur because of the ways the laws are written by Ohio’s elected state officials — they simply make the laws apply only to the public school children, omitting nonpublic (i.e., private) schools from the vast majority of the testing requirements.
Currently, students in Ohio’s public schools are required to test a minimum of 20 times throughout their 13 years (K-12). Meanwhile, students in the private schools (including Catholic schools) are only required to take the Ohio Graduation Tests when they are in high school. The public schools have the burden of engaging children when they are 8 or 9 years old in third grade in the process of high-stakes testing when they take the 3rd grade reading test in October and again in April along with the math assessment. These children then take the reading and math tests again every year through 8th grade in addition to science tests in grades 5 and 8.
The results of these 15 standardized tests between grades 3 and 8 are used to grade and criticize the performance of the students, the schools, and the teachers in Ohio’s public schools while the private schools coast along unscathed by the watchful eye of the state and the media. In Ohio, there are currently over 440 nonpublic schools serving over 175,000 children that are completely exempt from Ohio’s rigid standardized testing program.
It’s not an accident — it’s precisely the way the laws are (and aren’t) being drawn up and passed by Ohio’s Republican majority.
Let’s start with Governor John Kasich. You may remember that Kasich decided to stay in his personal residence instead of moving to the Governor’s mansion to keep his daughters close to their friends and their private Christian school. While the public school children in Westerville will be taking 20 high-stakes standardized tests, Kasich’s daughters are exempt from 75% of those tests – only needing to take the 5 OGT tests in 10th grade.
While this helps to explain why Kasich doesn’t care about what’s going on in our public schools, there’s a greater travesty at the point where the majority of our education laws actually originate — the Ohio House Education Committee.
The Ohio House of Representatives Education Committee is dominated by Republicans who are able to pass through laws with regularity due to their majority (12 of the 19 members are Republican). As they have been passing education “reform” laws such as the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the new school report cards that assigns letter grades and is based so heavily on student results on Ohio’s standardized tests, these members could have easily amended the laws to include the 400+ private schools serving 175,000+ Ohio children.
But they didn’t. And now we know why — they didn’t want their own children or their friends’ children to be subjected to the educational malpractice of testing, testing, testing. Neither did they want the schools they support to be exposed to the same public scrutiny that the rest of Ohio’s educational institutions are getting.
Ohio’s Republican House Education Committee members only care about their own personal interests — the private schools (or homeschool) where they send their own children. Let’s break it down by member.
- Committee Chair Gerald Stebelton (R): Stebelton is a grandfather with no school-aged children.
- Committee co-chair Andrew Brenner (R): Brenner has no children, but is an active member of the St. Joan of Arc Catholic church’s Men’s Club. Brenner has also proposed that Ohio offer a “School Choice” license plate as well as a resolution to create a “School Choice Week” in Ohio in the month of January.
- John Becker (R): Becker has one daughter who was home-schooled.
- Timothy Derickson (R): A graduate of his hometown Talawanda High School, Derickson’s children followed in his footsteps by attending the same public school — old enough to now be beyond the testing requirements.
- Bill Hayes (R): Hayes is a grandfather with no school-aged children.
- Michael Henne (R): Henne’s oldest children went through Dayton Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School, while his youngest attends St Christopher’s, a private Catholic school.
- Matt Huffman (R): As a well-known supporter of Lima Central Catholic, Huffman’s four children went through the Lima Catholic schools.
- Stephanie Kunze (R): Kunze’s experiences include holding office and volunteering in Hilliard’s PTO and her daughters attend Hilliard’s public schools.
- Kristina Roegner (R): Roegner is a former member of the Seton Catholic School’s board of directors and her daughters now attend the private Catholic school.
- Marilyn Slaby (R): Slaby is a grandmother with no school-aged children.
- Ryan Smith (R): We assume Smith’s children attend public schools as Smith is a former member of the Gallipolis City Schools Board of Education and there are no registered nonpublic schools in Gallia County.
- Andy Thompson (R): Thompson’s oldest two children have graduated and his youngest attends St. Mary’s (private) Catholic School in their hometown of Marietta.
In summary, of the 12 members on the committee, only three have children enrolled in Ohio’s public school system, three have no school-aged children, and the other six have specific connections related to opting out of Ohio’s public schools and opting their children out of the state’s standardized testing mess. Four of the members currently have children enrolled in private Catholic schools that have remained exempt from the litany of new laws passed by this committee.
In the Senate, only one of the seven Republicans on the 10-member Education Committee has school-aged children (enrolled in public schools).
This continued exclusion of private schools from the myriad of new education laws is no oversight on the part of Kasich & Company — these are purposeful actions by individuals looking out for their own special interests.