‘Straight A’ fund will change Ohio’s schools

Published 4:01 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nothing changes faster than change itself.

Today’s amazing smartphone model will be obsolete by tomorrow and the most awe-inspiring technologies are soon as dead as dial-up.

It’s no different in Ohio schools, where the methods and technologies we apply to teaching our children – like technologies in every other aspect of our lives – have evolved with head-snapping speed.

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We need to be keeping up with innovative learning technologies in every Ohio classroom to customize instruction for all kinds of learners and help the classroom function more like the 21st-century workplace our students will enter.

That’s why so many Ohio educators are excited about the new $250 million Straight A Fund, a state grants program that promises to jump-start much-needed change and transform Ohio’s classrooms.

I hear that excitement when I talk to teachers and school administrators across the state. Many tell me there is so much they want to do to deliver better results. They might have ideas for a new way to teach math. Maybe they see the need for a mentoring program for new reading teachers.

Maybe they have thought of a creative way to make their district busing system more cost efficient. The innovative ideas are out there and the willingness to change is apparent. But even though money isn’t the answer to every education challenge, it often does take money to transition to a new and better practice.

That’s where the Straight A Fund can help change the way change happens.

Gov. John Kasich called for the creation of the Straight A Fund as a way to help Ohio schools implement their best reform ideas. The fund provides the opportunity for schools to instigate new ways of learning and refine innovative approaches that produce sustainable savings and more cost-effective practices.

And all this will lead to our ultimate goal: better educated and better prepared boys and girls.

In my role as the state superintendent I can attest to the good news that Ohio schools are ready and willing to change.

Teachers, superintendents and school board members are eager to think creatively and are brimming with ideas to address the challenges facing education – especially in today’s tech-savvy world. They understand that we can’t solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s solutions.

That’s what makes the Straight A Fund and its quarter-billion dollar state investment such an exciting effort. It will help schools successfully transition from old, sometimes ineffective practices to new programs that work better for teachers and students.

National education leaders tell us that the size and ambition of this new fund places our state as a national leader in innovation.

Now, we face the big challenge: How can we find and reward the best and most creative ideas to help us craft the best education system in the country?

In recent years, Ohio has made important steps toward improving primary and secondary education in the state. Like other major advances — the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the A-F School Report Card, for example — our new Straight A Fund holds great promise.

I know that teachers, principals and superintendents across Ohio are already preparing proposals for Straight A Fund grants.

Their communities should be involved as well, so I strongly encourage parents, school boards and local government leaders to share their ideas with their local schools before the October 25 proposal deadline.

Classrooms have always been the birthplace of new ideas. That will never change, and that’s why I’m so optimistic that if we work together to apply innovation and new ideas to our classrooms, we can ensure the success of every boy and girl in Ohio.


Richard A. Ross is Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.