Today, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) voted in favor of House Bill 164, which addresses many issues school districts have faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of distance learning.
“There has never been a greater time for us to come together as a legislature and protect public schools,” Fedor said. “Teachers and students faced serious challenges this spring and we must assure them that their needs will be met in the fall.”
The bill, which addresses freedom of religious expression for students in public schools, was amended to address distance learning challenges, including the elimination of student growth evaluation data for the 2020-2021 school year, payments that prevent schools from losing more than 6% of their state funding and protections for teachers’ collective bargaining. The legislation also allows teachers to consider other evaluations than the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee test when deciding whether to hold students back for the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, it prepares schools for smaller, socially distant class sizes by granting temporary licensure flexibility, allowing some teachers to teach outside of their subject areas and grade levels.
Fedor says this bill recognizes that assessments are often unreliable, and demonstrates the need to trust teachers’ professional opinions and their ability to determine students’ progress. However, she looks forward to working on additional legislation that would create more equitable education opportunities for Ohio’s students.
“We’ve been immersed in conversations addressing racism over the past few weeks, and these injustices are deeply embedded within our education system, too,” Fedor said. “Inequities in our education system disproportionally affect Black students, and removing these barriers is paramount to addressing racism in all areas.”