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New Ohio Board of Education superintendent has support at Ohio State

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The Ohio Board of Education named Richard Ross as the new state superintendent of public instruction, and some at Ohio State approve of the choice.
Herb Asher, senior vice president for government affairs and counselor to OSU President E. Gordon Gee, called the board’s decision an “excellent appointment.”
“Many of us at the university have had the opportunity to talk with him, meet with him on a variety of issues, so I personally think he is just a superb selection,” Asher said.
Ross was sworn into office on March 25 as Ohio’s 37th state superintendent after a 10 to 6 vote by the Ohio Board of Education, making him the fourth superintendent in two years. The board’s president Debe Terhar conducted the ceremony at Reynoldsburg City High School.
Ross, 63, previously served as Gov. John Kasich’s chief education adviser, as well as the superintendent of the Reynoldsburg City Schools for 20 years until he retired from the position in 2008.
As a member of the Kasich administration, Ross was instrumental in making many of the recent changes to Ohio’s education policies, including a new school-funding proposal, A-F school report cards, a reformed teacher evaluation system, increased school vouchers and the third grade reading guarantee, which forbids students from advancing to fourth grade if they do not pass a certain level on state reading tests, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Experts said the appointment of Ross ties the governor’s office even closer to the Ohio Department of Education, with Kasich already having appointed seven current members.
Taylor Stepp, Undergraduate Student Government president and a third-year in public affairs, said he supports Ross’ appointment.
“I know the university has a really good relationship with Dr. Ross, and that the university has done a lot of really good work with Kasich’s team, especially with reformulating the funding methodology that President Gee worked on, and I’m really excited to see how Dr. Ross can help transform the state’s education system,” Stepp said.
Asher said the Ohio Board of Regents is more directly tied with colleges and universities, but there are still clear links between primary, secondary and higher education.
“We in higher education, for example, are very concerned when students leave high school not ready for college or university experiences, and the universities and colleges play a major role in the training of the teachers who in fact provide instruction in primary and secondary (schools),” Asher said.
After the board narrowed the field of 30 applicants, Ross secured the job over standing Superintendent Michael Sawyers, who was temporarily filling in the position after former Superintendent Stan Heffner resigned in August when an investigation found he misused state resources.
Hired only a year previously, Heffner replaced Superintendent Deborah Delisle after she resigned following alleged reports that Kasich officials had informed her that the board had enough votes to fire her, according to a March 2011 Columbus Dispatch report.
Asher said he expects there to be greater stability now that Ross is superintendent.
“I would expect that Dick Ross will be in there for quite a while,” Asher said. “It’s good to have stability because as you build ongoing relationships with the department, those working relationships are enhanced if there is stability.”
Casey Smith, a fourth-year in human development and family science, plans to become a teacher. She said she is apprehensive about all the changes to Ohio’s education policies and the competitiveness to secure a teaching job.
“I feel like it is a very pivotal time for Ohio for education … It does make me nervous knowing that the further I go along, the more things are changing,” Smith said. “That just puts another weight on our shoulders to say OK, what can we do to get a job then if everyone is trying to one-up each other and get all these different (teaching) specializations?”
Throughout the application process, Ross was open about a 2009 drunk-driving conviction for which his driver’s license was suspended for six months and he paid a $450 fine. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Ross is expected to earn about $200,000 per year, although no official salary has been set yet.

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