Senate Bill 3, the state’s so-called “Education Deregulation” bill, was passed by lawmakers in last week’s Lame Duck flurry of activity and contains several interesting education provisions.
First, the bill exempts the state’s 22-highest ranked school districts from requirements including the use of specially-qualified reading teachers to comply with the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee, teacher licensing rules, and state mandated maximum class sizes. Currently, the Ohio Department of Education limits schools to a maximum 25:1 student-teacher ratio. Under SB3, Ohio’s highest performing school districts could legally operate with unlicensed teachers and 50:1 student-teacher ratios.
The following districts meet the prescribed bill criteria for these exemptions, according to the 2015-2016 state report card. District median income is also included, as well as the statewide median income rank:
With an average income of $57,563, it is clear that these districts are wealthy, at least when compared to the other 589 school districts in Ohio, where the median income is just $33,429. Because student poverty tracks so closely with student performance, it’s equally fair to say that the state is exempting high-wealth school districts from regulation.
Other provisions in SB3 include:
Interestingly, no Ohio charter school would qualify for the exemptions contained in SB3 under the standards listed in the bill. Three charters would qualify under the report card components in which they receive grades, but as none are high schools, they couldn’t meet the high school graduation rate requirements to receive the exemption. There are about 400 charter schools in Ohio.