MOUNT VERNON — The governing board of the Knox County Educational Service Center was updated on the state of graduation pathways for the class of 2019 during their meeting Wednesday afternoon.
“The legislature made a provision for the class of 2018 last spring, because they put those end of course exams in, and the end of course exams are just unreasonably difficult,” Superintendent Timm Mackley said. “They’re targeting kids that are planning on going to college, but not all kids are planning to go to college, that’s certainly true in more rural areas like Knox County.”
Mackley explained to the board that the state put in the alternative pathway for diplomas last year for the class of 2018, but then they stood their ground and have been unwilling to extend the pathways to the class of 2019 as of yet.
“We all knew that they would, because they have to,” Mackley said. “Because across the state, I think the estimated number is between like 30 and 40 percent of the kids across the state of Ohio are not going to be able to pass those end of course exams and are not going to get a diploma. And you just can’t have a society where you’ve created a circumstance where 40 percent of your kids can’t get a high school diploma.”
Going into January and February, the state will continue to discuss the pathways, Mackley said, before the students potentially graduate in the spring.
“This is the legislature playing with education, which they love to do,” Mackley said. “Anytime, in my view, a legislator wants to pad his resume by indicating he has sponsored a bill, it’s something to do with education, because it’s easy picking. Let’s require the schools to do this, or let’s require the schools to do that, and we just end up dealing with it. This particular legislation is not just a nuisance, it’s a mess. But they’ll be straightening it out at the last minute.”
Mackley explained that before 1990, the decision to award or not award a high school diploma to a student rested with each individual school’s teachers, administration and board of education locally. The diplomas were awarded based on the school’s individual standards only, Mackley said, which were derived based on the student population that they had and what that population needed. Since 1990, he said, that has been “hijacked” by the legislature.
“Now a local board of education really has no authority anymore about who gets a diploma, which seems ridiculous to me. If you’re going to award a diploma that says Mount Vernon on it, the Mount Vernon board should have some say in that, but they really don’t.”
In regular business, the board approved a contract with ProCare Therapy Client Services to provide speech pathology services beginning Dec. 3 and ending May 23, 2019. Mackley explained that the ESC usually employs occupational therapists and speech pathologists, mostly for preschool students, but has been unable to fill the speech pathology position all year.
The board also approved reappointing board President Richard McLarnan to the Knox County Career Center board of education, with a new term to expire Dec. 31, 2022. McLarnan has served on the KCCC board of 40 years.