Better Schools Are Necessity

If you are a public school official, it can be difficult to know where to begin in terms of improving education these days. Demands come from all quarters.

Local boards of education may not want the same thing as state officials. With a new president and federal secretary of education in office, no one is certain what Washington will demand. Parents, while insisting on accountability, often resist it when it affects their children.

The situation is especially complex in Ohio, where there is uncertainty over the future of state high school graduation requirements, not to mention state funding.

Members of the Switzerland of Ohio Board of Education have taken a step toward reform by adopting a new mission statement.

It is an excellent philosophy for public education. The mission can be summed up by one of its sentences: “We empower life-long learning, provide innovative experiences and embrace challenges.”

There is more to the statement, but two other sentences are important: “We understand that innovation only comes after trial and error,” and ” … we believe that every small step towards our goals makes a difference…”

Among the most important goals — if not the most critical — for Switzerland of Ohio schools is improving its ratings on the state Department of Education’s report card.

State officials evaluate individual schools and districts based on a variety of criteria. A set of specific indicators of education quality is used. Letter grades are used to indicate how well schools and districts do in addressing those indicators.

Switzerland of Ohio schools received an F for how well it did on those indicators. Only 9.7 percent of indicators were met. It received a D on the state’s performance index, with a percentage score there of just 56.5.

Many public school systems face serious challenges — and again, sometimes conflicting mandates can make reform difficult. Clearly, however, Switzerland of Ohio officials need to begin taking some of those small steps toward better schools.