Advocacy Update – 12.7.17 – SB216 Update and Botkins Local Follow-Up

The Ohio Senate Education Committee met on 12.6.17. Due to the number of witnesses scheduled for SB216, the committee limited testimony to two issues: licensure and kindergartner readiness examinations. Testimony on gifted will be scheduled for a later date.  State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria gave testimony on all aspects of SB216. Press accounts of his testimony were limited and mostly focused on a difficult exchange between the superintendent and the bill’s sponsor. What the press did not cover was Superintendent DeMaria’s objection to the gifted professional development prohibition included in the bill. His statement regarding gifted was:

“A provision in SB 216 would prohibit the Department from requiring educators working with gifted students to do professional development focused on gifted education. This directly reverses a rule recently adopted by the State Board. The rule was developed with stakeholder input over a five-year period of deliberation and is designed to meet the needs of Ohio’s gifted students without overburdening educators. It was cleared through JCARR with no opponent testimony.

During the process of creating this rule, multiple superintendents testified that they wanted clear guidance and flexibility in serving gifted students. Families of gifted children stated that they wanted educators working with their students to have thorough training in gifted education. This rule is a balance of those interests. Before changing this requirement, the breadth of the discussion and the needs of these students should be taken into account.”

While it is certainly gratifying that Mr. DeMaria supports our position on this issue, his words do not matter as much to senators as emails from constituents. The gifted community must continue to contact their senators along with the members of the education committee.  Even if you emailed before, email again. To find your senator, please go to  The education committee contacts are below:

Peggy Lehner (R) – Chair[email protected]
Matt Huffman (R) – Vice Chair[email protected]
William Coley (R)[email protected]
Randy Gardner (R)[email protected]
Gayle Manning (R)[email protected]
Rob McColley (R)[email protected]
Steve Wilson (R)[email protected]
Louis Terhar (R)[email protected]
Vernon Sykes (D)[email protected]
Joe Schiavoni (D)[email protected]
Cecil Thomas (D)[email protected]

The message is simple: Please eliminate the provision in SB216 that would prohibit the state board from requiring any gifted professional training for classroom teachers providing gifted services. This provision will eliminate all accountability for gifted students and will lead to the degradation of true services. There will be no need for licensed gifted intervention specaialists if any classroom teacher can be a gifted service provider regardless of training. 

Please add your own sentiments about why having trained gifted instructors is important for gifted students.

This bill could be discussed possibly through February or March before being passed out of committee unless there is pressure from the bill sponsor and senate leadership to move the bill more quickly.

Previous Advocacy Update Clarification – I wanted to follow up on a statement that was made in an early advocacy update about Botkins Local where the district is requiring all teachers to undertake the gifted professional development, teachers who did not have identified gifted students in their classroom. I indicated that I didn’t understand why a teacher with no gifted students would be getting the training.  I received an email from the superintendent of this district who explained why all of the teachers were receiving the training. He stated that because it is a small district, they do not identify gifted students until the end of second grade, and they do not provide formal services until the 3rd grade. However, he felt strongly that even though there no identified gifted students in grades K-2, there were still unidentified gifted students in the classroom who would benefit from trained teachers. He also thought that it made little sense not to include the intervention specialist who worked with students with disabilities, because there are often students with multiple exceptionalities including, for example, gifted students who also have a reading disability. This was not a decision made as a misunderstanding of the standard. It was made with thoughtful intent. It was a local control decision, and it was made to benefit children.