By Joseph Pratt
Senator Sherrod Brown spoke Thursday afternoon to the press about the current debate in Senate to reform the No Child Left Behind Act with the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), as well as a number of provisions that are expected to be included in the ECAA legislation created by Brown himself in order to better Ohio education.
Brown said he has been working on three issues to ensure the quality of education in Ohio.
“It is an opportunity to strengthen Ohio education. There are three priorities to the bill,” Brown said. “It would reduce duplicative testing in our classrooms, so students could receive more time spent learning; it would ensure that charter schools, which are receiving taxpayer dollars, follow the same transparency and accountability measures as public schools, which is a huge, huge problem in our area; and thirdly, it would be addressing the achievement gap and inequality in our schools.”
Brown said that there is no ranking of importance on the issues with the Every Child Achieves Act, as he sees them all as important in ensuring parents that students are in effective classrooms.
To reduce duplicative and unnecessary testing, Brown has introduced the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act.
“The bill aims to improve mandatory state assessments and ensure they are efficiently and accurately measuring students’ progress and teacher effectiveness,” Brown said. “A version of this legislation was adopted unanimously during committee markup of the Every Child Achieves Act.”
Brown also spoke heavily about his Charter School Accountability Act, which he said would increase the amount of accountability and transparency in Ohio’s charter schools. Brown explained that Ohio is home to nearly 400 taxpayer-funded charter schools, in which teach 123,000 students. Brown referred Ohio to the “wild west” of charter schools, due to problems at many for-profit schools and the need for more transparency and accountability.
“These schools currently cost the state $1 billion under Governor Kasich’s proposed budget,” Brown said. “We want to make sure these charter schools effectively educate students; right now, they are not.”
Brown went on to explain that these school misspend public money four times the rate of other government funded agencies. He also claimed that students in these schools lose 43 days of math instruction and 14 days of reading instruction, compared to traditional public education.
Portions of the Charter School Accountability Act are expected to be included in the Every Child Achieves Act.
The third provision Brown has been working on is the Core Opportunity Resources for Equity (CORE) Act, which was completed with the assistance of Senator Jack Reed. Brown says that the amendment would tackle disparities in public education by establishing accountability requirements that compel states and school districts to give students equitable access to the core resources necessary to achieve college and career readiness.
“We owe it to children, we owe it to tax-payers, that education provided by all of our classrooms is effective no matter where those classrooms are,” Brown said.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.