State lawmaker says new cabinet position would better align students with employers


In an effort to align Ohio's public education system with the state's workforce needs, State Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) proposed a new cabinet-level position called the "Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement."

The DLA will blend the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education with the Governor's Office of Workforce Development.

Under the plan, ODE would continue to have the power to oversee charter schools, take care of licensing, and misconduct issues.

The plan would not result in any layoffs, per Representative Reineke's spokesperson.

The idea behind the proposed realignment, according to Representative Reineke, is to make Ohio more fluid and flexible in preparing the state's 1.7 million students to meet the workforce needs.

"There are severe workforce needs that are not being met. We are not properly preparing our students for the workforce. This will continue to challenge our K-12 systems to simultaneously focus not only on curriculum but focus keenly our students aspirational career goals," said Representative Reineke.

Not everyone thinks this proposal is best for Ohio's school children.

"One important service to school districts is the implementation of Ohio’s complicated and under-funded school-funding system,” said Ohio Association of School Business Officials Executive Director Jim Rowan. “It is difficult to imagine how merging these varying interests will improve that process," he said.

“This new house proposal would undermine the role and authority of the elected members of the State Board of Education. By stripping it of all but its regulatory role, the board would no longer be acting in any significant way on behalf of the citizens the members represent. At the core of our existence is the notion that education in Ohio will be at its best when the interests of the people are served by publicly elected boards. The State Board of Education is no exception," said The Ohio School Boards Association Executive Director Richard Lewis.

The goal of the proposed change to education is to have 65 percent of students who graduate have an apprenticeship or high school degree by the year 2025.