Related topics

Legislators should support bill that could give quality education to all: Dee Bagwell Haslam (Opinion)

December 31, 2017 GMT

Legislators should support bill that could give quality education to all: Dee Bagwell Haslam (Opinion)

Guest columnist Dee Bagwell Haslam is a member of ExcelinEd in Action Board of Directors, owner of the Cleveland Browns, Partner Pilot Corporation and CEO of RIVR Media Companies.

All Ohio parents should be able to choose a school that best suits their child’s individual needs, regardless of their income or home address. Our state’s legislators have an opportunity to make that a reality for more students and provide the hope and confidence that comes from a quality education.

Legislators are currently considering a bill that combines existing scholarships into the Ohio Opportunity Scholarship program. This will provide the most funding for those at the bottom of the economic ladder and ensure parents have the information necessary to make informed choices for their children.

The majority of students and families are being served well by their traditional public schools. But parents recognize that each child learns differently. We have a moral obligation to offer an opportunity to students who need and deserve options beyond the school they are mandated to attend based strictly on their home addresses.

The most important goal is to ensure all children have access to a quality education that provides the hopes and ability for them to pursue their dreams. Some forget the struggles many parents face in educating their children.

They can’t move to another neighborhood or pay private school tuition if their assigned public school isn’t performing well or is just the wrong fit for their child.

They can’t afford tutors when their children are struggling in a subject or enrichment programs, summer camps to maintain learning gains, or classes to prepare for college admission tests.

They don’t know somebody who knows somebody who can get their kids an inside track in life.

For these children, a high-quality K-12 education is their only shot at a leg up in life. There are no do-overs for an inadequate education.

Our students must graduate high school with the knowledge, skills and ability to pursue their dreams in college and a career.

Increasingly, the haves and have nots in society will be determined by an individual student’s ability to succeed in a career. A traditional high school diploma has little currency in today’s economy and will have even less in the future.

Our students must graduate high school with the knowledge, skills and ability to pursue their dreams. They must be equipped with credentials to dive into a high-demand career upon graduation or have some building blocks in place to achieve an industry-recognized credential or associate’s degree in a field of their choice. Likewise, they must be equipped to enroll in a traditional college setting if they want to enter a profession such as teaching or medical science.

Nobody understands this better than parents who are living paycheck to paycheck while caring for their children. They know the reality of struggling in the workplace while their kids struggle in school. And they want their children to have “better.”

I encourage Ohio’s legislators to give these parents the same right that many take for granted – the ability to find a better learning environment for their children. Regardless of our backgrounds, each and every parent deserves the same opportunity to seek the best options for their kids.

Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings (in blue) just below.

Readers are invited to submit Opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for consideration to Linda Kinsey at lkinsey@cleveland.com. Essays must also include a brief bio and headshot of the writer. Essays rebutting today’s topics are also welcome.