Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Amendment, Sec. (C) and (D): Three Boards, Two New

I'm hearing indications that the proponents of the AWNN are pressing on, so we shall as well. Remember you can follow along here.

Sections (C) and (D) deal with the boards that will do the stuff the amendment requires. The amendment actually creates two new boards – the Education Accountability Commission and the Education Advisory Commission – as well as broadly expanding the powers of the State Board of Education.

Section (C) creates the Accountability board. As is usually the case in constitutional provisions, the language is very basic – only that the commission is created, how its members are appointed, and some restrictions on who gets to serve (three former or current public school district employees.) The General Assembly is to fill in the details, including what sort of staff the Commission gets.

Staffing is important because the Commission’s mandate is as follows:

    The Education Accountability Commission shall monitor and annually report to the Governor, the General Assembly, the State Board of Education and the public regarding the extent to which the resources necessary to provide the components of a high quality public education as required by this section are being delivered in a cost efficient and effective manner and the degree to which they are successful in improving pupil performance, together with such recommendations for improvement as the Commission determines.
A tall order. Presumably this means “monitoring” the spending of 612 school districts, plus Education Service Centers that serve them and perhaps the State School Board itself. They monitor and report. It should be noted that per the amendment, that’s as far as it goes. They report.

Reports are fine things. I’m all about reports. I got my first op-ed published due to my high dudgeon that there would be fewer reports about education in Ohio. But according to the amendment, the Commission’s authority goes no farther than that. It’s conceivable that the General Assembly could give a little more teeth to the Commission’s report, but as we will see as we get deeper into this, that’s a little hard to do given the broad discretion given the State Board of Education.

Next, in (D)(1), the amendment creates the Education Advisory Commission. Their job is to . . .wait for it . . . advise. The State Board of Education, as it turns out. (D)(1) tells you who sits on this Commission and how the eighteen members are appointed. When you head down to (D)(2), that’s when things get interesting.

The first sentence of (D)(2) zips through most of the meat of this thing, so you have to look sharp. In the middle of a sentence about the State Board of Education's new job, it tells you what the Education Advisory Commission does: “[the OBE shall] in concert with the Education Advisory Commission . . .” so the Advisory Commission works in concert with OBE. Presumably OBE is also working in concert with the State School Superintendent and the staff at the Ohio Department of Education as well. And again, the General Assembly determines staff of the Advisory Commission.

So, 19 members of the State Board of Education, 18 members of the Advisory commmission, plus the State Superintendent and ODE staff. And are what all these folks they doing in what we hope is harmony? “[E]ach budget biennium, conduct objective, reliable and validated studies as appropriate to define the Educational Components of a High Quality Public Education for all Public School Pupils for the next succeeding budget biennium.” There’s more about what sorts of things the State Board is supposed to look at, then this:
    The Educational Components as so identified shall, when fully funded, constitute a thorough and efficient system of common schools as required by Section 2 of Article VI of this Constitution.
You could, I suppose, read that as saying that what the Board is supposed to do is pick the components needed to create a thorough and efficient system. But what the sentence appears to be saying is that the components the Board selects are, ipso facto, what a thorough and efficient system requires.

What we lawyers call"Administrative Law" is it's own practice field. Many of the smartest (and geekiest) lawyers end up there because it is so complicated and arcane. Admin lawyers need to know the circumstances under which a court can review and administrative action, when a decision can be deemed arbitrary and capricious and on. I'd have to do some serious work to get back up to speed on Admin Law to figure out how all this works. But not now. With that last sentence, the State Board of Education's selection of educational components becomes a constitutional mandate.

Remember this. It gets mighty important later on.


Daniel Jack Williamson said...

I think the state definitely needs to up funding to take the pressure off of local property taxes, but I don't want to further bog down the state budget with more educational administrators on the payroll. We have too many already. Adding bureaucracy upon bureaucracy just takes these issues further and further out of the public's reach.