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Two Ohio senators challenge the narrative of failing urban schools
The state's takeover of Youngstown schools could be the first of many

Mark Urycki
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni challenges Ohio's claim that a state takeover is the solution.
Courtesy of Ohio Senate
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Ohio's school superintendent will soon be choosing three members of the five-person Academic Distress Commission that will choose a CEO and run Youngstown City Schools. Two state senators who oppose the state takeover are hoping to influence how that commission operates by taking a closer look at how schools work. StateImpact Ohio’s Mark Urycki reports.

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Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni is trying to stop the Youngstown takeover in court. But H.B. 70 is the law now and he says he can’t wait for a possible Ohio Supreme Court ruling to overturn it. Schiavoni has introduced his own bill to restrict the extraordinary power the new CEO would wield as the law now stands.

His own bill "would allow him to have some discretion, but it would make him do some things like work with the community in public forums, like actually have to listen to folks and not break contracts on Day 1, not reconstitute into charter schools on Day 2, giving the city schools the opportunity to succeed.”

Schiavoni and another Democrat, Akron Sen. Tom Sawyer, visited Sawyer’s alma mater, Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron looking for success stories that might work in Youngstown. 

They asked teachers and students about project-based learning, standardized tests and how the inner-city school took a low graduation rate up to nearly 88 percent. Student Samir Nahali said the difference was changing the mode of teaching from dictating to motivating. 

The Buchtel principal said her teachers work a lot of extra time, even weekends. Schiavoni and Sawyer also visited a school in Columbus and plan to go to Cleveland and Toledo next.


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