Join in the conversation and contribute to Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Ohio will create a plan for how our local, state and federal programs are aligned to help all of our students be successful. The Ohio Department of Education will be seeking your involvement at a series of meetings throughout the state. Everyone is welcome to attend and share their ideas. Please join us at a meeting near you.

Additionally, the department will host a series of webinars covering focus areas within ESSA. Participants can learn more about specific topics and share their thoughts through a variety of response options.

The Ohio Department of Education is committed to comprehensive and collaborative community engagement leading to the development of our state Student Success Plan. A plan that is deeply rooted in the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities requires everyone’s input.

More information is coming soon. Please visit this website for the latest.


Paolo DeMaria, Superintendent of Public Instruction


Much of DeMaria’s 30-year career has focused on school finance and promoting higher student achievement, college readiness and completion, and school choice for families. DeMaria is an unabashed cheerleader for Ohio’s public schools, having sent his children to Columbus Public Schools and The Graham School.

The son of European immigrants, the West Virginia native is the product of the public education systems of Easton, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Scotch Plains, New Jersey; and Greenville, South Carolina. DeMaria has a 25-year record of public service for the state of Ohio, having formerly served as a staff member in the Ohio Senate, assistant director and director of Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management and as chief policy advisor to former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

Later, as associate superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education’s Center for School Options and Finance, he supervised the distribution of more than $7 billion annually to Ohio K-12 school districts and developed policies and legislative recommendations on school finance and educational choices for families. Afterward, he served as executive vice chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, leading initiatives to improve college completion, increase credential attainment, make textbooks more affordable and increase college readiness.

Before being chosen as chief executive officer of Ohio’s K-12 education system, DeMaria served for six years as principal consultant for Education First Consulting, guiding policy, implementation and strategy projects for K-12 and higher education clients in several states.

DeMaria earned his bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, from Furman University of Greenville, South Carolina, and a master’s of public administration from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He has co-authored several publications, including K-12/Higher Education Alignment: An Action Agenda for Increasing Student Success, for Core to College and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

His honors include The Ohio State University Alumni Association’s Distinguished State Government Service Award and being named by Columbus Business First Magazine as one of 20 [People] to Know in Education.

DeMaria speaks fluent Italian. He lives with his wife, Patty, and their cats in the Schumacher Place neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, and often bicycles to work. The DeMarias have two grown children, Sara and Tristan.

Contact Information



May 13, 2016

To My Fellow Public School Advocates,
After two days of excellent candidate interviews and candid conversations amongst our board members, we have hired Paolo DeMaria as our new state superintendent. As many of you, I, too, was looking for someone who had experience in the field. Although Shonda Hardman was my top choice, I do believe that the sSate Department of Education will benefit from someone with Paolo’s background in policy at all levels of state government, his strong organizational skills, and his ability to build consensus. He has worked for governors from both sides of the aisle and those who I respect and who know him, spoke very highly of his persistence, honesty and genuineness.

Several of his remarks during the interview struck a particular cord with me. They included:
“I believe in servant leadership that creates the conditions to succeed…We should start with the locals’ challenges and know that you do not earn trust overnight…I believe in the power of a collective look at best practices to advance the strategic plan…and [to be ing] diligent in the leadership to implement it…We need to get things done, monitor and measure, and celebrate when we get there…This is a collaborative effort and if people are not involved, they will not own it…We must be much more deliberate in engagement and build consensus around policy.”

In regard to my question about the teacher and administrator shortage, his remarks included:
“We don’t often give teachers the resources they need to be successful…We somehow have failed to keep children at the center of our perspective and we need to bring the students’ voice to the table to help shape policy and implementation…We need to create a climate where teachers want to come to Ohio to teach and a condition so that every day is a joyful day of learning.”

Finally, I was very pleased with the transparent process that President Gunlock put in place and the spirit of collaboration amongst my colleagues. I believe that our unanimous endorsement by a vote of 19/0, speaks to a new day and a new way of communicating at the Ohio Department of Education.

We have much work to do together to make ODE a true partner in your work and through the ESSA process to develop our Ohio Plan; a roadmap that will guide our education system for the next decade.

We have a real opportunity to make Ohio the “go to” state for 21st Century Best Practices. We have a sacred responsibility to create a learning environment that honors the potential of each child and gives them the tools they need to be successful. I believe we have hired an individual who can thoughtfully and creativity lead us through this journey.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer article can be found at

Together, we can build a brighter tomorrow for all our children! I am looking forward to our work with a renewed energy!


Pat Bruns


Break Out The Popcorn! Free Movie Offer!

Settle in this chilly weekend for a must-see movie for all of us who care about chuldren!

In just my second month as a State Board of Education member in February 2015, I was invited to a viewing of Episode 1 hosted by the Red Cross, United Way, and Children’s Hospital. The research was so compelling that it has significantly informed all of my conversations since about early childhood education and classroom management.

The series is FREE through April 17th!

The Raising of America Series is a five-part documentary series that explores the question:
Why are so many children in America faring so poorly? What are the consequences for the nation’s future? How might we, as a nation, do better?

The series investigates these questions through different lenses:
What does science tell us about the enduring importance of early life experiences on the brain and body?
What it is like to be a parent today?
And what policies and structures help or hinder the raising of healthy, happy and compassionate children?

The Signature Hour covers all three of these issues. The four subsequent episodes each dive in for a closer look.

A Note on Terminology
The Campaign—Sparking a National Conversation
The Raising of America Campaign films and resources are being used by hundreds of organizations concerned about the futures of young children and their families. Campaign Partners and others are holding community dialogs, policy forums, classes, trainings and other events to spark new conversations about what we as municipalities, states and the nation can do to make a strong start the birthright of every infant in the U.S, perhaps the most prudent investment any nation can make. Campaign Partners include both nationwide organizations with a broad reach and community organizations which dig in at the local level.

The Companion Website
The Raising of America Companion Website is the online, interactive hub for learning about the project and the issues. It provides interactive learning activities, discussion guides, toolkits, video clips, and background information. The website is also the go-to hub for resources to host effective screening events, and to link up with other organizations working to strengthen young children, families and communities.

What is the Series About?
Recent studies underscore repeatedly how a child’s earliest surroundings and interactions shape the developing brain, building the foundations for life-long emotional, intellectual and even physical health and development. Exposure to a nurturing or adverse environment in the early years affects how we think, feel and relate to others as we age, our capacities for empathy, impulse control and even love.

When parents are pressed for time, money and resources, their babies pay the price. Child well-being in the U.S. has fallen to 26th out of 29 rich nations. An increasing number of children grow up with learning, behavioral and physical health challenges. But our kids’ health is not all that’s at risk, researchers argue. By squeezing young families and under-investing in early childhood we are also under-developing America. If we want children to do better in school and in life—and the nation to prosper—we can’t wait until they enter kindergarten.

The studies are many, they are strong and they are persuasive. Yet little or no popular media until now have translated these scientific findings into a compelling new story capable of changing the way parents, practitioners, policy makers and the public think about society’s responsibilities and interest in these first crucial years. The conventional default explanations of child development—good vs. bad parents, genetics and cultural dysfunction—still predominate. Perhaps not coincidentally, little progress has been made in improving outcomes for America’s children.

The Raising of America seeks to spark a first-ever national conversation which asks: what can be done to better assure the conditions all babies and young children need to thrive? Will the U.S. squander its own future, or will it invest in its youngest children and their families?

A Repot from Ohio: John Kasich is N ot a Moderate and Ohio is Paying the Price

From the HuffPost Politics

Posted by ODP Chair, David Pepper

03/23/2016 02:46 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2016

Follow David Pepper on Twitter:

Here in Ohio, Democrats are watching the Republican debates intently like everywhere else. But there is one man on the stage we are especially fascinated by — the one who claims to be a moderate. The self-proclaimed adult in the room. The one who says he works across party lines. The one who is tired of everyone else being so gosh darn negative.

This Republican appears so reasonable that Chris Matthews now suggests that Hillary Clinton should choose him as her running mate. And Democrats in other states are beginning to wonder if he is reasonable.

But here in Ohio, Democrats are asking a different question — who is this man and what has he done with the governor we have dealt with since 2010?

Because the John Kasich we have endured since 2010 has been neither a moderate, nor an adult in the room. To the contrary, the far-right policies he has pursued have left a trail of problems that our next governor will have to contend with beginning in 2018. Here are just a few examples:

Attacking Workers

Kasich now claims to have a unique relationship with blue-collar workers. However, he has dedicated much of his time in Ohio to attacking those very workers. In one of his first acts as governor, Kasich attacked public employee unions more fiercely than even Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. He pushed a bill called Senate Bill 5 that would have destroyed collective bargaining for every state and local worker in the state. He declared the legislation essential to Ohio’s economic future, crisscrossing the state to convince low-income workers and other Ohioans that their life would only improve once teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters made less money and had fewer rights in the workplace. Ohio voters strongly disagreed with Kasich’s cynical effort, placing the issue on the ballot and handing the governor an embarrassing defeat.

But his attacks on workers didn’t stop there. Just last year, with one stroke of the pen, he unilaterally eviscerated the bargaining rights of child care and home care workers. Thousands were instantly dumped from a union they had voted to join.

Trickle-Down Economics

Guided by the same philosophy, Kasich has been a one-trick pony when it comes to Ohio’s budget. Unfortunately, that trick has been the same trickle-down economic philosophy which has never worked nationally and doesn’t work at the state level either.

Budget after budget, Kasich simply gives bigger tax breaks to the wealthiest Ohioans, paid for by the following:

Raising taxes (primarily through a higher sales tax) on those with less, and
Raiding funds previously dedicated to local communities and schools.
On the former strategy, Kasich proposed raising taxes even further on those unable to afford them, and giving out even bigger tax cuts to those who didn’t need them. But his own legislature stopped him.

And the latter strategy has led to continued, painful cuts and layoffs in thousands of communities across Ohio, combined with a flood of measures adding or increasing taxes at the local level. Some villages are literally disappearing from existence, and many other communities remain in fiscal distress years after the end of the Great Recession.

On the debate stage, Kasich is fond of saying that power and resources must be returned to the local community level. As governor, he has done the exact opposite, using the funds of local communities and schools as his piggy bank for greater state spending and tax cuts.

For-Profit Education Scandal

Kasich not only gutted school funding across Ohio to pay for his high-end tax cuts, his broken “model” of school choice has become the laughingstock of the nation. The model is simple: major Kasich and Republican donors have created for-profit schools that are consistently the worst-performing schools in the state. But as public schools and higher performing non-profit charters have been slashed, these failing for-profit schools have only seen their support increase over the same period of time. Their owners and operators are making millions of dollars in profits while delivering abysmal results for Ohio’s kids.

To conceal the failure of this corrupt system, Kasich’s Department of Education was caught changing the scores of the worst-performing for-profit schools — even including the “baked” scores in an application for federal Department of Education funds. The grant was awarded, but it’s now on hold pending an investigation into the falsified data. This burgeoning scandal — known as “Chartergate” — eclipses even Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” in terms of the dollars wasted, lives impacted and clear connections back to campaign donors.

Kasich attempts to dismiss this activity as coming from deep within the state’s chain of command. However, the official who altered the scores — who has since been terminated — is the husband of Kasich’s then-Chief of Staff, who now serves as his presidential campaign manager.

Most recently, a new scandal has emerged where for-profit “electronic” schools have been caught billing the state for “ghost” students that were never enrolled. More to come.

Women’s Health Care

Ohio Right to Life claims Kasich is “the most successful pro-life governor we’ve ever had in the state of Ohio.” And it’s clear why.

He recently defunded Planned Parenthood even though an investigation into the state’s Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing whatsoever, and even though no state money given to Planned Parenthood could be used for abortion services. The “defunding” simply led to the evisceration of critical health services to families in need.

But that was just the latest of dozens of pieces of legislation the governor signed, sinking Ohio to the level of states such as Texas when it comes to interfering with a woman’s personal decision whether or not to end a pregnancy, choose adoption or raise a child. Kasich even signed a bill imposing a gag-rule on rape counselors from explaining to rape victims all of the options available to them.

Marriage Equality

In 2013, Ohioan Jim Obergefell married his long-time partner John Arthur in Maryland, where the law allowed them to get married. When John died from ALS a few months later, all Jim wanted was to be listed on John’s death certificate as the surviving spouse. Jim prevailed at the district court level and was listed on John’s certificate. Kasich didn’t like this outcome, so he appealed (even as the Republican governor in Pennsylvania chose not to appeal a similar case). Kasich spent a year and thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to remove Jim’s name from the death certificate and erase their lawful marriage from history.

Jim Obergefell had to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to finally have his marriage recognized.

Voting Rights

Since 2010, Kasich has signed bill after bill that have been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional violations of basic voting rights. At the same time, Kasich put into place the most gerrymandered map in the history of Ohio and one of the worst in the country.

Results? A Model — of What Not To Do

Beyond the misleading ideological label Kasich has now adopted, what the debates and media coverage have also masked have been the dismal results of Kasich’s far-right policies. Trickle-down is failing Ohio just as it has always failed the nation, and Ohio’s education system is in shambles. Here are just a few data points:

Ohio is now in its 39th consecutive month trailing the nation’s job recovery — we have benefited from national policies like the auto rescue and the stimulus, but Kasich’s attacks on local communities and Ohio’s middle-income workers have eroded those benefits versus most other states because Ohio’s middle class is still struggling.
Average Ohio wages are lower now than they were in 1984.
There are more Ohio kids living in poverty today than there were in 2008, and as recently as 2014, our infant mortality rate for African-American babies was the worst in the nation.
One in four Ohio kids live in food-insecure households.
Ohio’s major cities remain largely distressed, with critical funds that would otherwise help alleviate urban challenges having been seized by the state and turned into tax cuts for the wealthy
Ohio’s public school system is seeing a meltdown in its national ranking. When Kasich became governor in 2010, Ohio’s public schools were ranked 5th in the nation by Education Week. The most recent ranking placed them at 23rd and falling fast.
America, don’t be fooled by the purposeful rebranding of John Kasich on the debate stage or the failure of the national media to explain his real record here. He has not been moderate as Ohio’s governor. Anything but.

Sadly, the ramifications go beyond presidential politics, into the real lives of everyday Ohioans in all corners of our state. The far-right policies he has pursued as governor are rendering deep damage to the communities, families and children of Ohio — damage that will take years and a dramatic new direction to fix.

Dem education leaders call for pause on state report cards that harm students


A special thanks to State Board of Education member, A. j. Wagner and Representative Teresa Fedor for standing up for our students and Ohio’s Public Schools!

Dem education leaders call for pause on state school report cards that harm students
State Representative
Teresa Fedor
Contact: Jordan Plottner, Communications Director (614) 466-9034
Dem education leaders call for pause on state school report cards that harm students
Say PARCC test inaccuracies render report cards useless, damage schools
COLUMBUS— State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Ohio Board of Education member A.J. Wagner to call for a pause on faulty state school report cards that the duo says hurts kids, communities and school districts. The lawmakers contend that the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests used to develop the Ohio School Report Card – at an estimated cost of $200 million – were not properly vetted, but in fact were hastily designed and put into use without sufficient validation.
“Every grade on these report cards is tainted by unverified, arbitrary, poorly designed and implemented tests that have been thrown out by the Ohio legislature,” said Fedor, who serves as ranking minority member on the House Education Committee. “The flaws are so pervasive that the grades on the Ohio School Report Cards should not be counted for anything. The state calls it a safe harbor, which should lead one to question: why there are there report cards at all?”
Ohio pulled out of the PARCC Common Core testing consortium in late June with the signing of the biennial budget bill. The move followed months of angry complaints from parents and teachers about technology glitches related to the new online tests, as well as concerns over how much learning time the tests ate up.
“The tests, and therefore the grades, violate standards of fairness. My colleague and I urge students, parents, and communities to ignore them,” said Wagner. “These report cards are not just inaccurate, they are harmful to our children, our schools and our communities.”
More than 17,000 PARCC tests were questioned by school districts after the release of the preliminary results and many of those appeals remain unresolved. PARCC admits that the 35 percent of the tests taken by pencil and paper may have significantly different outcomes than the 65 percent taken on a computer. The state made no adjustments for these anomalies.
Editor’s note: A photo from the news conference is attached.
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