Buried deep in the fiscal 2018-2019 budget proposed by Gov. John Kasich — on page 1,056 of 3,512, to be exact — is a provision that requires teachers to do something more than teach their students.
If the budget gets passed and signed into law with this provision intact, all new teachers applying for a license — and all working teachers applying for license renewal in Ohio — will be required to get some “on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce.”
As Columbus Business First explained it: “Take your child’s teacher to work day could become a reality in Ohio.
The exact details of what experience would suffice to meet the requirement are yet to be worked out, but perhaps an art or social studies or physical education or kindergarten teacher might meet this requirement by touring a factory where car parts are made or watch an urban planner plan an urban area.
Again, to be exact, here is the relevant section of the proposed budget:
What’s wrong with this?
Ryan Burgess, director of the governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, told news organizations that the idea is a good one in part because it would help teachers get a better idea for what jobs are available to students and what skills employers need.
Opponents, however, said making it mandatory is a bad idea. According to Cleveland.com, Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said it could benefit some teachers but not others. It said:
For example, a science teacher could use an industry experience to better connect the topic to his students. But Cropper questioned whether an externship would be beneficial for say, a kindergarten teacher. And she said it might be difficult for some teachers to find externships, especially in rural areas.
“Let’s not take what could potentially be a good idea and turn it into a bad idea by making it be compliance driven,” Cropper said.
The Akron Beacon Journal quoted Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association and a former elementary school teacher, as saying that she is concerned that the proposed measure devalues teachers and adds a new burden to the already hectic lives of teachers. She said:
“Are there any other licensed professionals who have to do an externship outside of their area of expertise to get their licenses approved?”
“As a teacher, we are eager to grow professionally. And we understand the importance of seeking job skills required for our students, but working and experience in a job outside the school doesn’t make sense, unless it’s just another hoop they want teachers to jump through by people who are not part of the teaching profession.”
According to the Beacon Journal, the idea for the new mandate came from Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board, described this way by the newspaper:
The board contains one superintendent of a career and technical center in central Ohio, two current or former heads of community colleges and no representation from local school districts, whether teachers or administrators. Instead, the group is packed with legislators, a couple of county commissioners, a hospital administrator and mostly company executives.
This is just the newest Kasich move toward making the needs of business a driver in how classrooms are run. He recently said that he wants every local school board to have three business members, Business First reported.
Education historian and public education advocate Diane Ravitch offered this on her blog:
Here is a better idea: How about if business leaders commit to teach for one full day in the public schools? Think of what they might learn by doing so.