The Ohio 8 Coalition members’ perspectives – as school administrators and teacher representatives – uniquely position them to drive changes to K-12 policy at the state level. When this group needed to come to consensus on how to achieve the policy changes they sought, they turned to ACS for lobbying and communication that ensured their voices were heard loud and clear.
How we did it: Since 2011, ACS has successfully led The Ohio 8 Coalition in strategic conversations related to influencing state policy and brought the group to productive agreements on messaging and strategy. ACS regularly plans and facilitates quarterly in-person strategy discussions, monthly conference calls, and committee discussion for The Ohio 8 Coalition leadership team to help them continue to advance their mission and set and implement a strategy, while addressing the tactical needs of the moment. As part of the relationship with The Ohio 8 Coalition, ACS developed a number of materials over the years to bring greater attention and clarity to K-12 education issues. This has included a Year-at-a-Glance infographic, testimony to committees within the Ohio General Assembly, and numerous statements to the media. This content has helped the organization respond to legislative and media requests, engage in policy discussions, meetings, and special taskforces across the state with various partners and stakeholders; maintain a prioritized and flexible list of policy recommendations; and regularly engage members of the legislature and media. All of this is part of the statewide advocacy strategy ACS developed and implemented for The Ohio 8 Coalition for several years including multiple state budget cycles. This has resulted in positioning the Coalition as a go-to resource for both media outlets and policymakers, and a much-needed “pro-public education” voice for the entire state.
Outcomes to date: ACS helped the Ohio 8 Coalition successfully modify legislation to do the following:
• Preserve Ohio’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (which was recommended for elimination).
• Preserve Ohio’s three existing licensure “bands” (which were recommended for elimination).
• Ensure Ohio’s “N-size” law was maintained at 15 instead of 30 (which would protect at risk populations such as students of color, in poverty, and disabled to name a few).
• Work to include funding in legislation that seeks to prevent suspensions and expulsions in grades K-3, to support training for teachers and staff, and to ensure the inclusion of mental health services.
• Revise student graduation requirements to provide more flexibility to students.
• Include a member of the Ohio 8 leadership team on the State’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) Advisory Council to improve the collection, structure, and use of Ohio’s K-12 education related data.
• Eliminate legislation that would have haphazardly consolidated several state agencies, all of which were related to children and or education.
• Advance ongoing conversations related to the revision of Ohio’s report card system to ensure state policy includes a measure that reflects the growth of students and overall district improvement.
• Participate in the development of a revised K-12 school funding proposal to better balance the funding between the state and local communities and reduce the overreliance on local property taxes and property valuation.
• Advance conversations to change policy related to Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission, which allows for State takeover of school districts including the elimination of local control.
ACS is well respected and thorough with a reputation that is above others. They have a hands-on approach that has allowed The Ohio 8 ease of access to the legislature. Their quality of work and service is excellent.”