Democrat Richard Cordray wants to chop back on standardized testing, add on-site school health services and put for-profit charter schools out of business.
Cordray and his runningmate Betty Sutton unveiled their K-12 education plan at a press conference in Columbus on Wednesday. Classrooms are over-regulated and students face too many mandatory standardized tests, he argued.
“There is so much more to education than just taking test after test after test,” said Cordray, who is running for governor against Republican Mike DeWine, who released a 17-point education plan last week.
DeWine and Cordray will face off in their first debate on Sept. 19 at the University of Dayton.
Cordray said he wants Ohio to drop back to the federal minimum number of standardized tests. When asked if it would do away with the “third grade reading guarantee,” a signature project of the Kasich administration, Cordray said “We’ll sort all this out but our aim is to go to the federal minimum for testing.”
He didn’t provide details on how the shift might impact testing requirements for high school graduation.
DeWine’s education plan also calls for reducing the number of required student tests, but doesn’t identify which type or how many should be eliminated.
“Over testing together with inadequate funding have narrowed school curriculum and pushed out many other meaningful ways to engage students,” he said.
Cordray also said he will limit charter schools to those operated by non-profits only. “We have been failed dismally over the past eight years over a lack of accountability over failing charter schools in Ohio.”
He pointed to the now closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which had been the nation’s largest online charter school until it abruptly shut down in January. ECOT received just over $1 billion during its 18 year run but its graduation rate was 39 percent.
“Our schools are not businesses and our students are not customers but those involved in the ECOT scandal put profit above our students’ needs. We will prohibit for-profit companies from running charter schools, limiting their operation to non-profit entities,” Cordray said.
When asked if this would require legislative approval, Cordray said “That’s a good question and I don’t think we necessarily know the answer yet.”
Cordray said “blended funding” using local, state and federal money from various programs can be used to offer “wrap around” services for students and their families, including dental, primary care and vision check-ups, mental health counseling and after school care.
“It means that the services are provided right at the school where we know the students are going to be day in and day out as opposed to the families bearing the burden of all the logistics, organization and transportation to get those services,” Cordray said.
Cordray is endorsed by Ohio’s largest unions representing teachers.
Reporter Jeremy Kelley contributed to this report