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Published in Print: March 5, 2003, as Ohio Panel Wants Standards Set Forth for State's Teachers

Ohio Panel Wants Standards Set Forth for State's Teachers

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Just as students in Ohio are expected to meet state standards for what they need to learn, teachers in the Buckeye State should have a set of teaching standards to guide how they teach, a new report recommends.

Setting state teaching standards was one of 15 proposals embodied in the report, released last month by a 46-member commission that Republican Gov. Bob Taft convened in November 2001 to propose strategies for improving the state's teacher workforce. A half-dozen of the members are state legislators, who are expected to take an active role in promoting the recommendations.

One of the first actions the state should take is to track how teachers are distributed throughout Ohio, said Katherine Canada, a project director for the governor's commission.

"The commission came up with more questions than there were data to answer them around the issue of supply and demand," she said.

As a result, the panel recommends that the state work with administrators' and teachers' organizations in Ohio to establish a database that includes a Web-based recruitment center.

Budget Restrictions

Though no price tag was put on the 15 recommendations, some—like a proposal to set up a permanent Educator Standards Board to formulate and enforce the teaching standards—are expected to be costly.

That 15-member board would include eight teachers, four administrators, two representatives from colleges of education, and one district-level school board member.

Little money, however, is likely to be available for such new initiatives.

Tom Mooney

Just one day before the report was released, Gov. Taft announced plans to cut the education budget by 2.5 percent, or $20.8 million, for fiscal 2003 to help close a $720 million deficit in the state's $23 billion budget.

Still, the recommendations are of vital import to the state, said Tom Mooney, the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

"It would be crazy not to invest in this," Mr. Mooney said. "If you don't invest in a quality teacher workforce, you cannot make certain gains," such as shrinking the academic achievement gap between children of different ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Providing Incentives

The commission made a point of addressing "how Ohio can close the achievement gap in children of different racial, economic, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds," said Ms. Canada.

For example, the report recommends that the state provide financial incentives, the amounts of which were not set forth, to hard-to-staff schools to improve their instructional environments and retain teachers.

Other recommendations include:

  • Improving teacher-retention rates by establishing a "professional culture" for teachers that provides them with new leadership and decisionmaking opportunities and additional instructional support.
  • Raising the minimum salary for beginning teachers to put it on par with that in comparable states over a period of four years beginning with the 2004- 05 school year.
  • Adopting statewide standards for professional development that will help identify the best training opportunities. "We cannot continue to treat every institute and every course credit as equally valuable," says the report.
  • Requiring all new teachers and principals to participate in a state-financed mentoring program for up to three years.
  • Compelling all licensed school personnel to participate in training sessions once professional development standards are established.

Vol. 22, Issue 25, Page 20

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