I have been honored to serve you in the Ohio Senate for the past 5 years. I was originally appointed to the Senate in 2010, and was elected to my first full term in 2012. I recently announced that I will be running for re-election in November of 2016.
In the Senate, I have enjoyed serving on a number of significant committees, including my time as Chair of the Education Committee, Vice-Chair of the Health Committee, as well as a member of the Criminal Justice and the Medicaid Committees. I also am the founding Co-Chair of the Children’s Caucus, a bipartisan committee that focuses on promoting the well-being of children. As part of that work, I have taken the lead on advancing quality early childhood education for the poorest children in our state. The evidence is overwhelming that children who attend preschool are more ready to learn in kindergarten, are better readers in 3rd grade, and are less likely to drop out in High School. During the past three years, I am proud to have played a leadership role in helping 15,000 more of our youngest children attend preschool – putting them on a path to success in school and in life.
This investment early saves money later.
My biggest challenge has been serving as the Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. Education in Ohio, and indeed across the nation, is in turmoil. Too many of our schools are failing to graduate students prepared for the 21st century workforce. My focus has been promoting policies that ensure all students in Ohio graduate from high school ready for college or a career.
Meeting that benchmark requires that all students have access to a quality education – whether it is in a traditional public school, charter school, or private school. When public dollars are involved, that money must be spent well. That is why I championed the effort to make charter schools more accountable. While there are some excellent charter schools in the state, far too many are low-performing and have taken advantage of the state’s shamefully lax oversight. Ohio newspapers have described the state’s new charter school law as among the most significant education reforms in years.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington have attempted to address the growing achievement gap between so many of our children through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. While well-intentioned, these overly intrusive programs have imposed layer upon layer of bureaucracy on our schools – with little or no improvement. One of the unintended consequences has been a proliferation of testing. I created a special Senate task force to examine how to reduce the time our kids spend taking tests rather than learning. We made recommendations that led to a nearly 50% reduction in state testing.
I hope you will stand with me as I seek re-election. I enjoy serving as your Senator, and hope I have made life a bit better for the citizens of Ohio. Please feel free to contact me regarding issues you believe I need to address, or any situations in which I may be of service to you. Many people do not realize that their legislative offices can help them navigate issues related to taxes, Medicaid, schools, or other engagements with state agencies or programs. You can find my contact information on the side of this webpage, or on my official Senate website.