A few weeks ago I spent my evening in dialogue with educators, parents, and child and family advocates from all across the state of Ohio. The room gust with energy from voices of advocates representing children and their various walks of life- all present to offer input regarding Ohio’s DRAFT Strategic Plan for Education 2019-2024. The proposed plan for educating our students contains multiple positive attributes. The suggested learning domains suggested expand beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic…FINALLY! They now explore a more well-rounded approach to learning that is inclusive of the arts, physical education, music, technology, etc. allowing schools to get more creative with their course offerings. Ohio also plans to abandon the “college-only” approach and promote work-force readiness (what ever that may mean to specific students which often DOES include at least some college). It is clear that college is not the only option for high school graduates. Developing a trade and/or pursuing entrepreneurial routes are viable options for today’s kids and should be included as work-force options. Ohio’s draft strategic plan places emphasis on the higher level, 21st century leadership skills of reasoning and creativity, perseverance and teamwork, self-awareness and developing a growth mindset. These skills are just as essential as the ability to add, subtract, and analyze a text. I was pleasantly surprised to see those soft skills included. I propose we add the word: adaptability to the list. Given that “65 percent of secondary students are predicted to work in jobs that do not yet exist” our kids must be adaptable to the constantly changing world and workforce around them. The plan also emphasizes social-emotional learning as a core domain for Ohio’s children and the Department of Education is in the process of creating social-emotional learning standards. This is awesome! We need to make sure our children are learning skills that get them ready for life beyond the schooling system. Social-emotional standards are a step in the right direction.
As expected, the plan lacks in some areas. While it specifies equity as “imperative” and a guiding principle, there is no comprehensive emphasis on educational equity and cultural competence for ALL kids. One of the unique attributes pertaining to Ohio is our diverse racial and cultural makeup. We have large populations of Somalian children, Black and Hispanic children, children from Amish communities, rural Appalachian populations and that’s just a few. Our schools must have curriculum and resources aligned to not only state standards, but cultural values.We must also place an emphasis on not only attracting high quality educators to the state and collaborating with higher education institutions to ensure that they are adequately trained, but we also need to figure out how to KEEP high quality educators in the classroom.
Finally, the Strategic Plan for Education and any other plan that the department comes up with should align to how schools are rated (Local Report Card). All schools must be fairly and adequately assessed on how well they are growing children.I voiced all of these recommendations at the stakeholders meeting because WE NEED people fighting for our kids at every level. All children deserve access to excellent schools and educators, culturally competent curriculum, and opportunities to expand their learning BEYOND the classroom.
I’d love to hear your feedback around Ohio’s DRAFT Strategic Plan for Education. What do you like in the plan? In your opinion, what should change? YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Share it.