Advocacy

REFLECTIONS ON HB 166

We Need to Educate Our Representatives

Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair

The summer of 2019 found us faced with legislation that proposed to allow coding to replace language learning for credit in school districts where languages are a requirement for graduation. This legislation came to us in HB 166, the financial budget for Ohio for FY 2020-2021, which encompasses many tax and other issues. 

Many of you took action by writing and calling representatives during your summer break time, and your action was effective, at least initially. Senators on the finance committee removed the lines from the bill, but then they resurfaced while the bill was subjected to revisions which were kept in the version that was signed by Governor DeWine in mid July. 

While the new legislation’s impact is initially restricted to a handful of districts across the state that require language learning for graduation, it opens the door for additional changes that could lead to more prioritization of coding and computer science over languages and other disciplines. This is a dangerous precedent.  

Fortunately, the changes in the budget do not have to be permanent. The onus is upon us as language educators to help inform our representatives, in particular, Governor DeWine, of the vastly different outcomes between world language learning and computer coding or science. We must stress the incredible value of language learning in the job market as well as its value in allowing our students to remain competitive when they apply to universities in Ohio and elsewhere.

The current legislation is a reflection of the misinformation, or lack of information, that our representatives and the general public have regarding language learning, and the fixation on STEM learning as a priority as a current trend in our educational initiatives. We know there is value in STEM learning, but not at the risk of losing all the wonderful outcomes of other disciplines. 

The fastest way to take action is to help educate our representatives, and that can be as easy as an email!  Here are some resources and a procedure to streamline your efforts: 

To find and contact your Senator(s):

1: Go to http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/district-map

2: Scroll down the page and enter your address.  Then click “find district.” 

3: Look at the map. Your district is highlighted and your Senator’s name and a link are on the map. 

4: Click the link (District #)

5: At the top of the Senator’s page, click “Contact” 

      1. Scroll down the contact page for your Senator
      2. Enter your information
      3. For Subject, select “I want to share my thoughts….” 
        1. Cut, paste, and edit the text as desired from this doc into the box for your message: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13frBkQHKxTRWhZr0YX_x0yCGJmYu7y4oxxgpZDc5O0I/edit

To find and contact your Representative in the House of Representatives: 

1: Go to http://www.ohiohouse.gov/members/district-map 

2: Scroll down the page and enter your address, click “SEARCH” 

3: Look at the map. Your district is highlighted and your Rep’s name and a link are on the map. 

4: Click the link (District #)

5: Scroll down the page for your Representative. On the right hand side, click “Email Representative XXXX”

      1. Enter your information
      2. For Subject, write/type “I want to share my thoughts on HB 166” 
        1. Cut, paste, and edit the text as desired from this doc into the box for your message: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13frBkQHKxTRWhZr0YX_x0yCGJmYu7y4oxxgpZDc5O0I/edit

Many thanks to you all for your efforts in advocating for the preservation of our language programs! The skills we offer to our students and the resulting transformation are far too valuable to ignore!