The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty
By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
August 25, 2017

The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty (STFEP) was announced in March in addition to four other committees on topics ranging from the opiate crisis to energy policy. The common goal of the various tasks forces is to better understand the subject each committee is charged with and to make policy recommendations to the House as its session resumes in the 132nd General Assembly.   

The STFEP will focus on an improved understanding of the achievement gap as it relates to education and poverty by focusing on state data and proven outcomes that work to assist in minimizing the gap. This goal will be accomplished by exploring both practical and proven approaches that have worked around the country and have shown significant educational outcomes.

Committee members include Chairman Robert Cupp (Lima), Representative Margaret Conditt (Liberty Township), Representative Janine Boyd (Cleveland Heights), Representative Darrell Kick (Loudonville), Dr. Bob Mengerink (Superintendent, Cuyahoga County ESC), Anthony Knickerbocker (Career and Technical Education Director, Lancaster City Schools), John Stack (President and Owner, Cambridge Education Group), Karen Boch (Superintendent, Wellston School District), Dr. Thomas Maridada II (CEO, BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools), Hannah Powell (Executive Director, KIPP Columbus).  Members will hear from experts from the healthcare sector and education community, and poverty mavens to develop a better understanding of the issues that surround the committee’s topic.

During the inaugural task force meeting in late July, committee members heard from the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) as they shared their findings on health disparities within education, specific to the two groups of students classified as economically disadvantaged and those students who are not economically disadvantaged.

Key Findings include:

  • Poverty plays a significant role in education outcomes;
  • The probability of a student being classified as economically disadvantaged has increased by one-third;
  • Economic disadvantages show greater shortcomings in achievement scores than racial differences (Third Grade Reading Test Data);
  • On average, 71 percent of high school dropouts were labeled as economically disadvantaged;
  • There are data around early childhood education achievement that should be examined further by the committee as a proven strategy in narrowing the achievement gap.

On Thursday, August 17, the task force met for a second time focusing on the correlation between health and education attainment and the role poverty plays in shaping individuals’ lives.   

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) presented their ongoing work on education and health.  HPIO has recently released two reports outlining the relationship between education and health, and reported to the committee key findings from their recent reports. Two more reports in the series will be released in the future.  

Key Findings include:

  • There are large gaps in fourth grade reading outcomes by income;
  • A clear pattern exists between health outcomes and education;
  • Abuse and neglect impact brain development, children living in low-income families are more likely to have experienced adverse childhood experiences;
  • 35 percent of adults who have not completed high school have one or more chronic diseases.

Author Phil DeVol spoke to the committee on the nature of poverty and testified on work he has done around the country using the Bridges out of Poverty model.  Mr. Devol touched on the way poverty creates “tyranny of the moments” for many individuals and families.  He highlighted ways that communities can come together, around schools, to affect change in the lives of the students and families living in poverty by understanding the unstable nature of poverty.  By addressing barriers that are generated in poverty, the Bridges out of Poverty model has proven successful in communities throughout Ohio.

The committee will continue its work into the fall.