Legislative Liaison Blog
By Pamela Henney
Everyone likes a break in taxes, which the Ohio statehouse is considering in legislation introduced this term. While they are potentially offering some tax breaks for educators and women, new bills review school security requirements, youth suicide prevention, and, yet again, study the amount of year-end testing. Plus, free K-12 resources from the US/UN Forum.
Ohio’s state budget, as most states, is funded by taxes paid, whether income, sales, or value added. Two proposals in the Ohio legislature potentially would give educators and women a bit of a break. House Bill 121/SB 26 adds a provision to the state tax law permitting educators to deduct up to $100 (HB121) or up to $250 (SB 26) for expenses incurred for buying their own instructional materials. The bill is currently in committee so the two versions can be rectified settling on a deductible number and a definition of “instructional materials.” Additionally, HB 19 has legislators in committee considering elimination of the “Pink Tax,” or sales tax on an array of feminine hygiene products. Saving money can help take some stress away from all the duties of educators in today’s classroom.
Protecting students is the focus of Ohio HB 123 passed by the House and currently in Senate committee. The Safety and Violence Education Students Act (SAVE Students) requires Ohio districts to choose from a minimum of three evidence-based training programs, including at least one free program for school personnel and students alike to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide, and self-harm in students. Included in the training would be ways to identify and refer to in-school and community-based mental health services, along with teaching students about mental health and depression, warning signs of suicide, and the importance of and processes for seeking help on behalf of self and peers and reporting of these behaviors. In the recent media around the state, some students at risk for mental health issues, or other risks, could have been saved from major trauma if their family/guardian were contacted earlier. Therefore, the required time before reporting the absence of a student to parent/guardian will potentially be changed from 120 minutes to 60 minutes after the beginning of the school day (SB 157). Other preventative measures include establishment of an Ohio Children's Behavioral Health Prevention Network (sub. HB 12) to centralize resources and services.
Additionally, lawmakers are beginning to hear instructors, parents, and students regarding the time and stress of year-end testing. Currently in committee, HB 239 proposals time studies and formation of work groups to evaluate the amount of time students spend on testing. Work groups will review everything from time on testing (district wide and more), to purpose, cost, and use of data. Under this bill, nationalized assessments will be offered in the spring of the 11th grade, but participation will be voluntary.
The US Forum Connection from DKG International is a free newsletter with national news impacting women and educators. In this month’s installment, free resource links are offered:
The National Women’s History Museum (https://www.womenshistory.org) contains history lesson plans, biographies, posters and videos.
The Energy Teacher Resource (http://energyteacher.org) created by the Association of Science Technology Centers designed for teaching grades K-12 provides videos and energy literacy resources.
The Green Room (https://bit.ly./2Goy/OA) is another free K-12 resource which provides suggested classroom activities created by the National Wildlife Federation to provide suggestions on activities dealing with wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems.
Sign up for the US Forum Newsletter via http://www.usforumdkg.org