House Bill 212 will get its first hearing this week in the Ohio House Education Committee now led by controversial chairman Andrew Brenner.  HB 212 was introduced last May by Andrew Thompson (R) who is best known for being both extremely conservative (i.e., Tea Party), but also for his extreme anti-Common Core stance which appealed to many parents and educators alike.

Thompson’s House Bill 212 includes many provisions that propose to change testing and curriculum in Ohio, though the majority of these provisions were already addressed when PARCC was eliminated and curriculum changes dictated this past summer in Ohio’s Budget Bill, House Bill 64.

While it’s possible that Brenner may allow additional discussion about the changes to testing and curriculum simply to show off his newly-assigned power role and his likely displeasure that ODE switched so quickly to a new testing provider (AIR) without really putting out a wide request, the majority of HB 212 has already been settled, leaving one key item up for discussion: the state-mandated evaluation system for teachers, principals, and school counselors.

House Bill 212 is in no way confusing when it comes to OTES and OPES.  Thompson’s bill flat-out repeals every pertinent section of Ohio Revised Code that mandates the processes for every school or district (except for Cleveland, because …. well, we have no idea why Cleveland is always singled out).   HB 212 proposes repealing ORC 3319.111, 3319.112, and 3319.114 – the sections of code that dictate every bit of the framework and specific requirements for the evaluation system for teachers (and, by association, principals).

Ohio Revised Code section 3319.113, mandating a new evaluation process for counselors, did not yet exist when HB212 was drafted, so we must assume that it will quickly be amended into this bill to be likewise eliminated.

Now, interestingly enough, we do not doubt that this bill may gain wide support from Ohio’s educators, but the bill is far from perfect and will once again leave many school districts in a lurch as so much recent  education legislation seems to do.

While removing “OTES” might gain cheers, HB 212 does NOT remove the requirement that schools and districts evaluate teachers, it simply puts the onus back on districts by giving them the appearance of “local control”.

While the bill removes OTES as a requirement, it does not remove the requirement that school districts still evaluate teachers and principals.  By removing the OTES/OPES requirement, the bill simply puts the (unfunded) mandate on districts to now come up with a process to evaluate educators back on their own dime.  Many districts across Ohio, because of the existing law, have switched to the ODE provided eTPES system (Electronic Teacher & Principal Evaluation System) funded by the state to document and track their evaluations.  By proposing the elimination of a statewide process and rubric established under the Strickland administration, this bill would effectively remove the provided tool and require school districts to (once again) turn around and establish or dredge up an old system that hasn’t been used in years (on their own dime -“local control”).

One step forward, two steps back.  If only the legislature would stop meddling with all of the state laws that mandate the illusion of “local control”…