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Improving Big-City Ohio Schools

It’s a shame none of the candidates for Ohio Board of Education from the East Ohio district is local. All are from the northern area of the district, which stretches from Mahoning County down to Meigs County.

Still, thoughtful local residents should have a favorite in the race, for a reason that seems counter-intuitive.

In contrast to state BOE races elsewhere in Ohio, none of the three candidates for this district is anywhere near being a conservative. Two, state Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown and retired teacher Kathleen Purdy of Alliance, list themselves as Democrats. Both are fine folks, I’m sure.

But it is the third candidate, Ida Ross-Freeman of Canton, whose campaign platform makes the most sense.

Ross-Freeman lists herself as a nonpartisan candidate. She is CEO of the Stark County Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program. She also is a member of the Canton City Board of Education.

And, though I don’t think she’s ever been a public school teacher, Ross-Freeman seems to understand education isn’t a cooke-cutter process.

In one interview, she said a top priority is recognizing that students in urban areas should be taught differently than their counterparts in rural regions. She pointed out that learning styles differ.

She’s absolutely right about that – though public school policy makers don’t seem to understand.

Now, techniques used to teach students in our area seem to be a good fit, by and large. We have some excellent school districts in Belmont, Jefferson, Monroe and Harrison counties. We also have some that are not so good, of course.

But the very worst schools – by far – in Ohio are in the big cities. Performances such as those turned in by districts such as those in Cleveland and Youngstown simply would not be tolerated by local taxpayers. Something needs to change in big-city school districts.

Not our concern in East Ohio? Wrong. Hundreds of thousands of young Ohioans in big cities are being deprived of quality educations. Resources are being diverted in futile attempts to help them.

That hurts everyone in the Buckeye State.

Ross-Freeman seems to want to change that. She ought to be given a chance, by being elected to the Ohio State Board of Education.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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