Candidates for Ohio legislature stress education reform
The race for Ohio's 53rd House District seat has been focused primarily on school budget reform and the workforce.
State representative and Oxford resident Timothy Derickson (R) is the incumbent, having held the seat on the Ohio State House of Representatives since 2009. Before that, Derickson was a small business owner and farm owner in Butler County.
His challenger, Suzi Rubin (D), has been a city council member for the city of Monroe since 2004. She has also worked on several journalistic publications and has worked on the school board for Monroe Local Schools.
As the Chairman of Workforce Development Task Force, Derickson said one of the most important aspects of job growth is worker education.
"One of the main problems is that employers have jobs to fill, but lack a workforce that possesses the necessary skills to fill these jobs," Derickson said. "It's important to make sure that our workforce has the training and skillset needed to fill the jobs that are needed."
Derickson said he is also concerned about education reform.
"I think how we fund our K-12 system needs to be reformed and needs to be constitutional," Derickson said.
As of now the current kindergarten to twelfth grade schooling system is set up so that schools receive funding based on time spent receiving instruction in the classroom. This discourages teachers from using a "blended curriculum," which means incorporating digital and computerized learning, according to Derickson.
"Our education needs flexibility," Derickson said. "Digital learning should be encouraged and integrated with time spent in the classroom. Schools and teachers need more in-class flexibility with a system that encourages blended learning."
Challenger Suzi Rubin has also set her sights on reforming Ohio's school funding.
"My main goal for this election is to reform school funding," Rubin said. "I was involved in the late 90s in getting a new school district for Monroe. I was primarily in charge of putting the new budget together and realized how unconstitutional and unfair school funding was."
Ohio schools have been funded the same way since the 1930s, according to Rubin. The system is set up so that the state collects a portion of sales and property taxes are earmarked towards funding local schools. According to Rubin, this has changed in recent years.
"Last year, local schools saw 25 percent of the earmarked amount not returned to them; this year, it was 50 percent," Rubin said. "That money has remained in Columbus and this needs to stop."
In addition to fixing local school budgets in Ohio, Rubin also seeks to stress the importance of worker's rights. Last year, Derickson voted Yes on House Bill 5, a bill that worked to prevent collective bargaining between unions and the government, according to Rubin.
"I disagree with Representative Derickson when it comes to workers' rights," Rubin said. "Bargaining for wages and working conditions are beneficial to both the government and the workers."
Although Rep. Derickson voted "yes" on the law, the law was repealed by a referendum in November of last year.
Representative Derickson is a supporter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and is as a member of Ohio's Agriculture/Natural Resources Committee. Additionally, Rep. Derickson has supported a number of bills that shifting jobs from the public to the private sector.
"One of the biggest issues for me is workforce development and trying to fill the gap [in jobs] that employers have recognized," Derickson said.
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