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New Ohio schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria must advocate for children: editorial

Ohio's new schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria has a chance to show that he can stand up to political pressure, unlike some of the state's recent superintendents, and that he will be a committed advocate for our children, writes the editorial board. Ohio's new schools superintendent, Paolo DeMaria, might have a hard time filling the shoes of some of his predecessors -- not because they were so big, but because they were so small.  More on Ohio's new school chief This gives DeMaria an opportunity to show that his key concern is ensuring that Ohio's children get a top-notch education and that their parents and the public have a permanent seat at the table for any decisions. In particular, DeMaria needs to work hard to keep the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) insulated from political pressure. His predecessors did not achieve those goals. Richard Ross, who retired last year, was sandbagged by former school choice director David Hansen's deliberate omission of the failing grades of online charter schools. Hansen resigned from ODE soon after. He is the husband of Beth Hansen, Kasich's chief of staff and former presidential campaign manager.   Before that, schools Superintendent Stan Heffner handed in his retirement papers in 2012 after Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer said he lobbied the state on behalf of an education company he had agreed to work for -- which shows he had little consideration for the needs of Ohio's children or its taxpayers.  DeMaria ought to set the bar higher for the Ohio superintendency than it has been for some time.  There are clear signs that DeMaria is willing to do the job -- especially given his crackdown on inadequate reporting by publicly funded charter schools in Ohio -- but to ensure that DeMaria has a clear field for reform, there needs to be a change in the governor's office as well. About our editorials Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer -- the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization. * Talk about the topic of this editorial in the comments below. * Send a letter to the editor, which will be considered for print publication. * Email general questions or comments about the editorial board to Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director for cleveland.com. // $('.floatingSeries').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','line-height':'20px','color':'#333333','width':'255px','margin':'10px','margin-right':'0px','float':'right','border-bottom-color':'#dadada','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'1px','padding-bottom':'2px'});$('.floatingSeries h3').css({'text-transform':'uppercase','color':'#363636','font-size':'30px','line-height':'28px','padding-bottom':'7px','border-bottom-color':'#363636','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'4px'}); $('.floatingSeries ul').css({'list-style-type':'none','list-style-position':'outside','list-style-image':'none','margin':'0px','padding':'0px'});$('.floatingSeries li').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','font-weight':'normal','color':'#333333','font-weight':'bold','line-height':'20px','border-top-width':'1px','border-top-style':'solid','border-top-color':'#cccccc','margin':'0px','margin-top':'6px','margin-bottom':'6px','padding':'0px','padding-top':'6px','padding-bottom':'4px','color':'#333333','text-decoration':'none'});$('.floatingSeries a:link').css('color','#333333');$('.floatingSeries h3').css('margin-bottom','2px'); // ]]> Gov. John Kasich must be more outspoken and explicit in showing his support for DeMaria in his fight with politically connected charter school interests. Admirably, DeMaria has resisted legislative efforts to defang House Bill 2, Ohio's tough new charter school reform law that requires improved ODE evaluations and oversight. That's critical, since some Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly already have blocked a new rule prompted by HB 2 that required charter school sponsors to prove to the state that they are complying with all of its rules - about 300 in all. Instead, lawmakers sent the rule to a rule-making committee to evaluate, a delaying tactic that could take months. The evaluations are supposed to be done by Oct. 15. DeMaria, in response, decided to take a random sample of 10 percent of each of the sponsors' schools to meet the requirement and complete the evaluations by the deadline. That was smart. But Kasich should have spoken up and told meddlesome legislators to follow the law. Speak up for charter school reform, Gov. Kasich ODE under DeMaria has also been fighting a legal battle to get student attendance records from ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online school that has been criticized by the state for failing to show that its students have the required 920 hours of active learning in an academic year. DeMaria also has to make sure that the 19-member elected state board of education -- his immediate bosses -- and the public are in the loop.  That didn't happen under Ross, who engaged, with the help of some Mahoning County officials and others, in a top-secret state takeover of the underperforming Youngstown schools without the knowledge of either state school board members or the city. Ross' lack of full transparency poisoned politics on the board and tainted his reputation. DeMaria needs to learn from his predecessors' mistakes and make sure he is an honest advocate who sees his job as working on behalf of Ohio's children and being open and honest with the public. If he can achieve those goals, he could be one of the best superintendents that Ohio has had in some time. Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings just below. Read more..

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