Senator Matt Huffman provided sponsor testimony on SB216 today in the Senate Education hearing. His written testimony was short and mainly referred to the list of issues addressed in the bill. This summary is posted at http://www.oagc.com/files/Ohio%20Public%20School%20Deregulation%20Act%20Summary%20of%20Items.pdf . It was clear from his spoken testimony, which can be viewed at http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/ohio-senate-education-committee-10-18-2017 (starting at the 29:30 mark) that the
gifted professional development prohibition provision is not a minor issue to him in this bill. He shared that teachers in Botkins Local were required to get gifted professional development when they had no gifted students in their classroom. As the gifted standards for service are not mandated, it is unclear why this district is implementing gifted PD in all classrooms. It is very clear, however, that Senator Huffman believes that the provision is a mandate is for all, and he is unlikely to be dissuaded by the facts over his superintendents’ views. Even though he has stated that he wants a robust conversation on the bill, it is unlikely that he will personally change this provision. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t hear from his constituents. He believes that superintendents are the best people to decide what the children need in their district and if parents don’t like it they should complain to their local school boards. Other senators on the committee have different views on this, which they shared both publicly and privately.
This bill is highly controversial. It will not be moving anywhere quickly. But it could move forward at some point. The Senate hasn’t heard about gifted in some time. They will, without a doubt, get an earful about the gifted provision from superintendents, particularly in Northwest Ohio. If Senator Huffman’s example from Botkins is any indication, we will need to do counter this testimony with the facts and with the stories from other superintendents, teachers, and children who are benefiting from this new provision. This committee also needs to hear from parents, especially regarding how difficult it is to advocate for gifted students in small, rural districts. While Senator Huffman may remain adamant about this provision, other senators are more likely to listen.
While the Senate Education Committee schedule has not been posted yet, there will likely be proponent testimony on Wednesday at 3:15 pm. Again, it can be viewed online at www.ohiochannel.org.
What should gifted advocates do in the meantime½ Start a conversation with your own senator about the importance of classroom teachers serving gifted students with Also, a short very polite note to committee members about your concerns is a good start. To find your senator, go to http://ohiosenate.gov/index and go to the “Find Your Senator.” The link to the committee members is http://ohiosenate.gov/committee/education .