Ohio Republicans aim to merge education agencies, give governor power

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 3:16 PM


            State Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, explains a bill to combine the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation into a single Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
State Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, explains a bill to combine the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation into a single Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

A Republican-backed bill introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, would combine Ohio’s departments of preK-12 education, higher education and workforce development into a single agency led by a governor-appointed director.

The new Department of Learning and Achievement (DLA) would be aimed at “better aligning Ohio’s public education system with the state’s workforce needs” according to a news release from House Republicans.

Gov. John Kasich spoke in favor of the idea two weeks ago, but with Kasich’s term ending this year, Ohio’s next governor, to be elected in November, might appoint the first director if this bill becomes law. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee or had any hearings.

RELATED: State board calls for graduation changes

House Republicans argued that a unified, cohesive department would make Ohio more “fluid and flexible” in preparing students to succeed in the future. The bill would give the DLA director authority to appoint deputy directors to streamline policy development and implementation. That would take current policy roles away from the state school board – narrowing the authority of the 19-member body – 11 of whom are elected by the public.

Education stakeholders were varied in their reaction to the bill.

Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy at the Fordham Institute, said creating an agency under the direct oversight of the governor would ensure that governors are publicly accountable for executing Ohio education laws.

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“These changes would ensure that our next governor will truly have the ability to shape the direction of education and should result in more coherent policies and greater continuity,” Aldis said.

But leaders of three top school organizations – the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) – voiced concerns with the plan, ranging from the responsiveness of a larger bureaucracy to its ability to manage complex school funding.

“The proposal would move decisions about important topics such as setting the state’s learning standards, graduation requirements for students and school district report cards to a politically appointed staff as opposed to the current process that includes many opportunities for public input,” OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said.

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The groups added that the proposed structure could cause major uncertainty for local schools every time a new governor is elected and appoints a new leader.

Greg Edinger, superintendent of two northern Ohio career tech centers, spoke in support of the bill at a press conference Wednesday.

“The focus on workforce and career preparedness at an early age aligns with our district goals and is essential for moving forward and addressing the critical workforce demands our state is seeing,” Edinger said.

RELATED: Schools urged to teach more “soft skills”

Democratic State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, who is running for governor with state school board member Stephanie Dodd as his running mate, called the move a “power grab” by Republicans seeking to weaken the elected state school board.

“There’s no excuse for taking control from Ohio voters and giving it to yourself – especially when it comes to our children’s education,” Schiavoni said.

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Stanford students protest school, Brock Turner case

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 6:13 AM

Group holds protest at Stanford related to Brock Turner case

Students of Stanford University protested the school in connection with the Brock Turner case for the way the school planned to honor the woman he assaulted in 2015.

The group of student protesters read passages from a letter written by the woman known as “Emily Doe” to the court Friday. 

>>More dry time expected to start this week

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety.”

A plaque in “Doe’s” honor was to be installed, but the university reportedly refused to use her chosen quotes.

A Stanford University spokesman said two quotes could not be accepted because they would be triggering to survivors of sexual violence.

Turner spent three months in jail for the assault and lives in Greene County as a registered sex offender.

He appealed his conviction and has asked for a new trial.

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High water blocks some roads; troopers urge driver safety

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 1:54 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 5:43 AM

Flooding causes driving concern in Miami Valley

Heavy rains made for tough driving conditions Saturday, but high water remains a concern through the weekend.

Lower lying and more rural roads are at a greater risk of flooding, such as Ohio 68 in Beavercreek, and Ohio 725, which is closed until further notice between Peniwit and Lower Bellbrook roads.

>> Swollen waterways prompt flood watch, warnings along Great Miami R., other spots

“We just want motorists to take a little extra time in planning where they want to go,” Sgt. Rod Murphy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Anyone planning to head out this morning should be aware of potential flooding that could block your way.

If you see standing water in the roadway, turn around, even if the water appears shallow.

“It’s not worth the risk. It’s better to just safely turn around and find another way,” Murphy said.

Water pushing out of man holes between Xenia Avenue and Pritz Avenue in Dayton Sunday morning.

>> Kasich declares emergency over Ohio flooding

On wet roadways another concern is hydroplaning, when tires lose their grip on the pavement. Motorists in that situation are advised to “just let off the gas, slow down, and try to get to a safe area,” Murphy said.

Late Saturday and early Sunday there were reports of flooding throughout the Miami Valley.

3:27 a.m.: High water reported at Wilson Road between Fenner Road and OH-55.

3:05 a.m.: South Valley at US-35 is shut-down due to high water.

1:45 a.m.: April Lane at New Germany Trebien Road and Beavery Valley Road closed.

12:00 a.m.: Upper Bellbrook Road reported having high water.

12:00 a.m.: High water on US-68 and North at Sutton Road caused a vehicle slide off and a police cruiser was damaged.

11:30 p.m.: Hebble Creek was out of its banks in Fairborn in Greene County

11:17 p.m.: A flash flood in Lebanon in Warren County led to multiple road closures throughout the county due to high water, including Morrow-Milgrove Road, Lower Springboro and South Pioneer roads and Corwin Road.

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Dunkin' Donuts introducing Girl Scout Cookie-flavored coffees

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 5:34 AM

Girl Scout Sells More Than 300 Boxes of Cookies Near Pot Dispensary

If you like flavored coffee and Girl Scout Cookies, you might be in luck.

Dunkin’ Donuts has announced that by Monday, Feb. 26, it will be selling three new flavored coffees inspired by Girl Scout Cookies.

>> Read more trending news 

Those flavors include Thin Mints, Coconut Caramel and Peanut Butter Cookie. These flavors will not just be limited to standard coffees.

Dunkin’ Donuts said in a Friday press release that iced and hot coffee, lattes, macchiatos, frozen coffee and frozen chocolate can all have Girl Scout Cookie flavors.

People on social media seem pretty excited about the news.

You’ll have to see for yourself if a Dunkin’ Donuts near you will be participating. If so, the coffees will be around through May.

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More dry time expected to start this week

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 4:52 AM

Counties under flood advisory until 10:30 a.m.:

Butler, Preble, Wayne (In.)

Counties under flood advisory until 10:45 a.m.:

Montgomery, Greene, Clinton, Warren

A pre-dawn shower is possible early today. Aside from that, there will be decreasing clouds and more afternoon sunshine with highs in the lower 50s. It’s also going to be a windy day with winds gusting over 30 miles per hour at times.

Quick-Look Forecast:

  • Flood watch continues through 10 a.m. today.
  • More dry time to start the week.
  • Rain returns Wednesday and Thursday.

>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

TONIGHT: A dry and cool night is expected. Temperatures will drop into the middle 30s.

MONDAY: Mostly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower to middle 50s.

TUESDAY: We get back into the upper 50s with mostly sunny skies.

WEDNESDAY: The chance for rain returns in the afternoon and evening. Highs will be in the upper 50s.

THURSDAY: Rain showers are expected with highs in the middle 50s.

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