“We have goals, we need to meet those goals and anything that takes us away from meeting those goals, I think is a problem,” DeWine said.
He said he wants to ensure all students are put on a path to success, beginning with literacy accessibility.
“I think the most important thing we can do is to really, really focus on doing everything we can so the issue of retention does not come up in a student’s life,” DeWine said. “There’s just no reason that we cannot get a lot more of our students reading at grade level by third grade.”
DeWine said the way reading is taught in schools across the Buckeye State should be consistent.
“The jury’s back, the verdict is in,” DeWine said. “There is just no dispute anymore that the science of reading, with the use of phonics, is the way to go, and that is the best way to teach children how to read.”
He said if schools don’t have the materials to support teaching students to read through phonics, the state will pay for it. If teachers were taught differently in college, the state will pay to teach them how to teach their students using phonics.
“If we really want to increase the proficiency of reading, which we have to do, we need to take this dramatic move and we need to do it now,” DeWine said. “We cannot wait.”
The budget DeWine is proposing also invests in schools. DeWine said that includes an investment in public schools and an expansion of school choice by increasing eligibility for choice scholarships.
“Which I think is a big movement towards school choice, but we also have to, at the same time, have the money to help our public schools as well,” DeWine said. “Our bill is a balance and it’s a good balance.”
DeWine said his intention is to move forward and make sure the budget he is proposing goes fully into effect. Right now the budget is still being worked on in House of Representative committees.
Senate Bill 1, which has passed the Senate, is also now being heard in committees and would give DeWine the power to appoint the head to the Department of Education. DeWine said right now, he does not have anyone specific in mind but has an idea of the values that person should have.
“We want someone whose philosophy would frankly be aligned to mine in regard to education,” DeWine said. “Someone who has experience, someone who knows what it’s like to be out in the schools.”