Dear Groundwork Team,
The Statehouse has been relatively quiet as the legislature is on summer recess. As we continue to plan and lead the statewide advocacy effort to increase investments in Ohio's early childhood system, we were excited to learn that Ohio House members have continued the conversation about Ohio's most at-risk kids during their break. Last week, the House Taskforce on Poverty and Education, created by Speaker Rosenberger and the Majority Caucus and chaired by Representative Cupp (R-Lima), held their first meeting to begin examining issues of poverty and education including the achievement gap.
Members of the task force include Represntative Margy Conditt (R-Hamilton), Representative Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) and Janine Boyd (D-ClevelandHeights); Dr. Bob Mengerink, Superintendent of Cuyahoga County ESC; Anthony Knickerbockerk, Career and Technical Education Director of Lancaster City Schools; John Stack, President and Owner of Cambridge Education Group; Karen Boch, Superintendent of Wellston School District; Thomas Maridada II, CEO of BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools; and Hannah Powell, Executive Director of KIPP Columbus.
The Taskforce was led through a data presentation on achievement and economic status led by staff from the Joint Education Oversight Committee which highlighted the disparities in performance seen between those students who are economically disadvantaged and those who are not. The presentation was followed by a discussion among Taskforce members. It was no surprise to us that, as Taskforce members responded to the presentation and reflected upon their experience in their local communities around the state, providing at-risk children with access to high-quality early childhood education was introduced as a proven intervention in narrowing the achievement gap.
Given the discussion between Taskforce members and our expertise in this area, Groundwork delivered a letter to Representative Cupp's office on Monday asking for an opportunity to share our findings and recommendations based upon what we know is working for Ohio kids. We are hopeful that we will be provided with an opportunity to present extensive national research, Ohio specific data and shared experiences of local communities before this group, because we know that quality early childhood education is critical to narrowing the achievement gap for children in poverty and driving positive outcomes for kids from kindergarten readiness through adulthood. The Taskforce announced that they will have additional meetings on August 17, September 14 and 28, and October 5 of this year. We look forward to sharing updates on their work as it progresses.