OHIO Students Propose Education Policy Recommendations to Legislators

June 18, 2012

Spencer Smith, a junior studying English in Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, a Voinovich Research Scholar and a participant in the Ohio Student Education Policy Institute, researched education policy and met with other students weekly during spring quarter to discuss possible improvements to current law. Ultimately, he and his peers aimed to present their policy recommendations to Ohio legislators. Ohio College Access Network directs the OSEPI program and aims to provide an opportunity for students to engage in a process that directly affects their educational experiences and of those who follow their example. It is important for future teachers to understand policy, which is one quality that attracted Smith to the program. Transforming his ideals into policy that can be adopted by the state legislature is one of his biggest challenges, Smith said. "I think that education reform is merging - that you've always had teachers and policy makers, and more and more organizations are attempting to combine those," he said. "I want to be an educator, but that's only half the story. I want to be a part of an organization that is working towards ending education inequity. I think an experience like this is invaluable in that goal," he said. "This is something I can talk about in any interview with an organization like that, 'not only am I interested in educating children, but I know exactly what it takes to change education policy, because I did it.'"

On April 24th Smith and his team members were put to the test when the OU team was one of two teams chosen to testify before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee in Columbus. Their main recommendation was for a tax credit for employers who want to send their employees to a public institution for additional training and education. The OU/OSEPI student team also proposed two sub-recommendations: state development of an educational credit to individuals for work or internship experience and state development of an online portal that links public education institutions with private businesses.

WOUB's Kelee Riesbeck interviewed Voinovich School Assistant Professor Marsha Lewis, and OU student Andrew Miller and Michael Krichten, a student from Washington State Community College who was a member of the Ohio University team, about the experience on "Conversations from Studio B." Click here to listen to the interview: http://woub.org/2012/06/12/ohio-student-education-policy-institute