HB 487 – A Triumph for Nonpublic Schools

Since I started with OAIS in 2011, I have reminded folks (sometimes ad nauseam, I imagine) that Ohio is the most regulated state in America when it comes to independent and other private schools. No other state imposes the cumulative number of curriculum, testing and graduation restrictions on private school students that Ohio does. Despite the level of state aid that is directed to Ohio schools from state government, which is also one of the highest, if not highest, levels in America, there is no relationship between the restrictions and mandates and the aid received from the state. Aside from those schools with religious objections to state government involvement in education, there is no option for a private school, or even a traditional Catholic school, to opt out of funding and opt out of restrictions. The most intrusive requirement, for the past 20 years, has been the mandatory passage of the Ohio Graduation Test in order for a student to receive a diploma.

Thanks to HB 487, this trend is now in reverse. Committed legislators, who value the unique role that private schools play in our educational system, led the charge to give private schools an opt-out from the end-of-course exams while still maintaining some kind of accountability to the state. Beginning in October of 2015, private schools will have the option of mandating that all students take a national assessment of college and career readiness and publishing the results by graduating class. In the meantime, a select committee will meet to determine whether or not other testing requirements and options would be appropriate.
No private school chartered to operate in Ohio should have to change its curriculum to meet the mandates of a state-issued standardized test. The curriculum at private schools should be driven by professionals, parents, the marketplace and (when relevant) religious teachings. I am proud of the way the nonpublic school community came together to work for these common sense changes and I look forward to a continued discussion of the appropriate relationship and boundaries between state government and private schools.