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Ohio Schools Superintendent Talks Funding Issues, Common Core Standards
Posted on: 08/20/2013
By  Andy Rex
Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Richard Ross spent part of Monday in Marietta, meeting with educational and business leaders. 
He says that, as he travels, he hears similar concerns from across the state, as well as issues that are specific to one region or another. To the state superintendent, literacy is the most important issue facing Ohio…
“I think that’s really the foundation of where we get where we need to be.  I think that starts at early ages, where we need to make sure our children have the knowledge and skills in reading – so they’re able to control their own destiny after the third grade.  That’s why I’m such an advocate of the third grade reading guarantee.  I think it’s absolutely essential that those youngsters have those skills.  I know that 60 percent of our dropouts from high school did not have them.  I think we’re sending those students down the drain unless we intervene.”
School funding is always a hot topic, especially in Appalachian Ohio.  Dr. Ross says that no matter what, school funding is a political process…
“I don’t know if (people have) ever been happy with the funding formula.  I’m not sure if they will ever be happy with the funding formula.  We have one.  It was a give-and-take over a period of months as they worked through this.  So…what can I say?  I’m sure that we’ll do this again in two years, and my guess is there will be a lot of people that still aren’t happy about what we end up with the funding for.”
Dr. Ross cautions that you can’t just spend more money on a problem to solve it.  At a point, he says the return on investment will diminish…
“When I did an analysis of the relationship above a certain level between spending and student performance, it looked like a snow storm.  The correlation wasn’t there.  We have to be mindful that just throwing more money at things doesn’t really get us the results we want.  There’s a threshold at the base that you need to have. 
“But this takes good leadership – effective leadership – from schools and communities working together, saying this is important for us to get this done.  The stakes are high for our youngsters.  Their future is in their hands, and we need to do the very best and make sure it happens.”
There’s also been criticism from some conservatives about new standards known as “Common Core.”  The standards have been adopted by Ohio and more than forty other states. Dr. Ross says school standards should challenge students, and Common Core does that. The state superintendent says he does not understand the opposition…
“As I go back and look at them, I’m just not seeing it.  My suggestion to everyone is you need to go through them and look at them.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not seeing the things they’re talking about.  I do share the standards with people out there that ask. If they find something that I didn’t find, then let me know.  I think it’s about high expectations for our youngsters.”
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