COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The addition of a major policy to the State Operating Budget drew attention Wednesday and Thursday.
The Ohio Senate decided to include new graduation requirements in the finance bill out of concerns for timing, according to Senate President Larry Obhof.
“Each month that ticks by, you run the risk that a whole ‘nother school year – and therefore another class of children – are missing having the stability, frankly, in graduation requirements that we need,” said Obhof.
For the past 20 years, Ohio has been trying to find graduation requirements that work, constantly having to adjust them.
Last month, the Thomas Fordham Institute, in conjunction with Ohio Excels and the Alliance for High Quality Education, brought their idea to the Statehouse just as the budget was being sent to the Senate.
The idea is based around a system where students work toward earning seals for their diploma and provides them several pathways to earning that diploma.
There are 12 seals available, some state based and some based on the local district.
Some of the seals cover academic areas like the Science Seal or the Technology Seal, while others can be earned for enlisting in the military.
“I think, frankly, it’s time for state policy makers to decide on one set policy and let kids focus on being kids and getting an education,” Obhof said.
But some lawmakers, despite supporting the concepts, feel the Senate may be rushing the policy.
“That’s always my question, is this something that we need to spend more time on,”said State Sen. Teresa Fedor. “Some of the professionals in education and interested parties believe that we need to do that.”
Fedor said she still has questions about how the policy will work, how students will earn the seals, or if the requirements for those seals have even been created yet.
“We didn’t have full vetting, as far as I’m concerned, as you would have with a stand-alone bill,” said Fedor.
Still, she supports new graduation guidelines.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Fedor said. “I’m confident that this is the right move. If not, we have been responsive between the state board of education, the legislature, the school districts, how things are going. We are keeping our finger on the pulse.”
As for the Senate President, he seemed non-plussed over the possibility that it could be removed from the operating budget during the conference committee process.
“If it is something that people need more time to look at, you know, the legislative process can continue in other ways,” said Obhof.
Though he warned doing so would leave the graduating class of 2023 wondering what will be required of them.