House Bill 343 is moving quickly through the Ohio House and could become law in the lame duck session. Earlier this week, the bill was loaded up with goodies for public education opponents and for-profit charter school operators before it was passed by the House Education committee on a party-line vote. Here are just some of the bill’s provisions we are concerned about:
- Eliminates the state’s $20,000 minimum teacher salary for bachelor’s prepared teachers. This would allow teachers to be paid less than someone working the McDonald’s grill.
- Allows Dropout Recovery charter schools (that graduate as few as 2 out of 155 students in four years) the ability to collect money for GED candidates. It also makes these schools eligible for federal funds for these adult literacy programs.
- Allows these Dropout Recovery charter schools to enroll students up to 29 years of age (up from 22) for diploma or GED programs at a cost to taxpayers of $5,000 per student (pro-rated for how long they’re in the program). The 2014-2015 cost is capped at 1,500 students, or $7.5 million.
- Allows Teach for America teachers to be certified to teach in Ohio as long as they carried a 2.5 grade point average in college (regardless of major), pass a state exam in the area they’d be teaching and complete Teach for America’s 5-week summer training program. Teach for America teachers are recruited to go into school buildings with the greatest challenges. And this bill will now allow them to be paid less than $20,000 a year.
This isn’t the first gift this legislature has granted dropout recovery schools, many of them run by individuals who give millions in campaign contributions to Ohio lawmakers. Last year we wrote about legislation that kept data about dropout recovery schools off state report cards and made them more difficult to close.
House Bill 343 was approved by the House Education committee and could receive a vote from the full House as early as today. It will then go to the Ohio Senate, where lame duck legislative action is expected to continue for at least another two weeks.