August 2, 2002
The mistake was attributed to a "computer programming error.'' While the schools have been exonerated, the error could have caused untold damage to their reputations and could have affected the decisions of voters and parents selecting new schools and neighborhoods.
In recent years, the state education agency has been responsible for a number of so-called mistakes. It is amazing that the public was not outraged at the reported results of the fourth-grade proficiency test in mathematics a few years ago. This examination lacked effective field testing and only three of the state's 611 districts had a passing rate for more than half of their students. When the majority of students in schools in Granville, Bexley, Upper Arlington, Dublin and Worthington can't pass a test, a "reasonableness'' check would suggest the data needed to be examined before results were released to the public.
Early in my career, while assistant to then State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martin W. Essex, three admirable characteristics of his leadership stood out. These appear to be lacking in our current agency.
This example also begs a larger question: Are the decisions being made at the Ohio Department of Education always reasonable, appropriate and in the best interests of Ohioans?
Questions about the appropriateness of decision-making on the part of the leaders of the Ohio School Facilities Commission led to the resignation of its executive director. It may be time to take a careful look at decisions our education leaders have made in recent months. For example, many people probably assumed the state superintendent, as part of the three-person facilities commission governing this multibillion-dollar project, would be the watchdog representing the interests of the constituent parents, students, taxpayers and school staffs.
Records failed to document attendance of the superintendent. The representative of the Ohio Department of Education who did attend was reported to have had a background in finance rather than school-facility implementation.
All Ohioans should question the operations of this massive state agency.
is Distinguished Research Professor at the
University of Dayton and is President & Chief Executive Officer
of SchoolMatch®, a Columbus based educational auditing, research, data