Bad for Ice Cream, Bad for Students

Consider a hypothetical: Imagine, if you will, a group of ice cream manufacturers who have a problem with Ohio. You see, for twenty years, Ohio has required every gallon of ice cream manufactured within the state to be tested to see how long it takes for a scoop to melt. At the time it was passed, and in years since, some lawmakers believe this test helps determine the level of enjoyment that consumers will have with their ice cream because they’ll know how long they can have it on a hot day before it melts.

There’s some important things to note about this test:

  • It doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of ingredients
  • It doesn’t tell you anything about the presence of absence of something that could make someone sick
  • It doesn’t tell you anything about whether or not it tastes good
  • There is no consumer demand for ice cream manufacturers to submit to these tests

Now let’s say that the manufacturers have pointed out to the State of Ohio a few more things:

  • The test costs money and requires resources that could be better spent elsewhere
  • A good result on the test doesn’t seem to help sales of the ice cream, and ice creams from other states that aren’t tested don’t seem to suffer from not being tested
  • Ohio is the only state requiring this test of ice cream produced within its borders and doesn’t require ice cream produced outside of Ohio, but sold within Ohio, to be tested at all

Hypothetically, if all of these things existed for ice cream manufacturers, how long do you think it would take for Ohio to repeal the use of this test? 3 months? 6 months? Maybe a year?

Sadly, a similar situation does exist in Ohio and it’s applicable to something more important than ice cream (no offense to ice cream). For close to 20 years, Ohio has required all chartered nonpublic school students to take and pass a 9th Grade Proficiency Test or Ohio Graduation Test in order to receive a diploma. No other state has this burdensome of a mandate on all independent and private school students in order for those students to receive a school diploma. You’ll notice a few similarities between the melting test and our graduation tests:

  • Ohio is the only state to require these tests for its independent school students
  • The test costs money and resources that could be better spent on teaching children
  • It is the state asking for independent school students to take these tests and not consumers (in this case, parents and college admissions departments)
  • Students at independent schools in other states can come to college in Ohio and not submit to such a test in order to gain admission to an Ohio college
  • High scores on the OGT or PARCC don’t and won’t get a student anything in terms of a better chance of admission to an elite school or the school of his/her choice
  • Scores on the OGT or PARCC don’t and won’t reflect the quality of education a student has received, nor do they or will they have any dependable relationship on determining whether a student will attend or graduate from college

While the ice cream manufacturers could probably be successful in getting their test repealed, it’s been tough sledding in Ohio. However, there is some reason for optimism. Just last month, the Chartered Nonpublic Graduation Requirements unanimously recommended to exempt chartered nonpublic students who aren’t on a state-funded scholarship from the graduation pathways requirements. While the General Assembly did not enact this recommendation in its lame duck session, I am hopeful and optimistic that others are starting to see what we’ve known for a while: Whether it’s ice cream or education, Ohio shouldn’t be in the business of putting needless restrictions or requirements that do nothing to ensure quality or success.