State Senators Seek Student Ideas

Members of the Senate Democratic caucus hear about testing concerns and Shaker strenghts


Shaker Schools

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni discusses education with students Nov. 19 in the upper cafeteria. Members of the Ohio Democratic Caucus are visiting high schools across the state.

Students told two Democratic state senators what works in Shaker in hopes of putting Ohio’s political leaders on the right path.

Superintendent Greg C. Hutchings Jr. chose four students — senior Branden Augustine, sophomore Emma Neil, senior Max Markey and sophomore Ose Arheghan — to meet with Senate Minority Leader Schiavoni and Senator Williams at the high school Nov. 19. “I just want to hear what’s going on in the school,” Schiavoni said at the beginning of the meeting.

Among the positives, Markey praised Shaker’s “focus on the individual.” He mentioned electives, clubs and extracurriculars.

“It seems like you have programs that make everyone feel comfortable,” Schiavoni said.

Augustine described the arts at Shaker: marching band, theatre classes and ensemble program.

“I should have went to Shaker,” said Williams, who wished “our state [could] harness that and try to foster it in other areas.”

Among the negatives students articulated, Arheghan, who is the Shakerite investigations editor, cited testing. Last year, she said, there was a lack of “consistency, communication and familiarity, which led to confusion” in the testing environment.

Schiavoni agreed. “The administrators were calling the state, and the state didn’t know what to tell them,” he said. In fact, he said he recalled that Hutchings testified before the Ohio Senate about the failures of Wi-Fi during PARCC testing.

“Every school is a little bit different, but at the end they all have the same themes,” Schiavoni said. But he noted that in Shaker specifically, people “really do want to help one another.”

In an interview afterward, one of Schiavoni’s aides said the caucus is working on things that will affect students directly. They hope to make college more affordable, reform charter schools, eliminate zero-tolerance programs and pay-to-play programs. The caucus is also trying to revise truancy (missing school) policies to be more understanding.

Schiavoni and Williams are visiting public schools across Ohio. They headed for Cincinnati after this meeting.

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