Governor DeWine visits YSU, promotes literacy

Governor Mike DeWine (left) and YSU President Bill Johnson (right) shake hands. Photo by Christopher Gillett / The Jambar

By Christopher Gillett / The Jambar

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine hosted a roundtable discussion at the McCay Auditorium of Beeghly Hall on April 15 with Youngstown State University President Bill Johnson and Stephen Dackin, the director of Ohio’s Department of Education and Workforce.

Alongside showing clips from the film “The Right to Read,” the discussion focused on DeWine’s policy initiatives to promote literacy education, such as bills that would require education students in college to learn the science of reading. The Ohio legislature is currently debating them.

DeWine said it’s unacceptable that literacy education is not more grounded in science.

“For us to tolerate classrooms where we’re not using the best evidence and the best way of practice to teach someone how to teach is just, I think, totally unacceptable. To quote a friend [from] this morning, ‘It’s immoral,’” DeWine said.

Dackin said children across the country lack an effective literacy education.

“The biggest struggle is that many of them have not been exposed to learning how to read through the science of reading. That is absolutely an issue that has affected thousands of kids across the country, not just in Ohio,” Dackin said.

Referring to Dewine’s initiatives, Dackin said the state has been sending out materials to assist in teaching.

“We are in the process of rolling out high quality instructional materials that districts are required to purchase that are aligned to the science of reading. We’re providing professional development for teachers, principals,” Dackin said. “We’ve got literacy coaches in some of our highest needs districts to help teachers implement the science of reading.”

Attendees at the roundtable included members of university administration, Ohio politicians, local business leaders, YSU students and local librarians. Guests had the opportunity to ask questions.

When one of the roundtable attendees brought up teaching career training, Johnson said it needs to be taught.

“[YSU] used to do a program called Manufacturing Your Future, and we used to bring in children from middle school, high school, and we would do exactly what you’re talking about,” Johnson said. “[Career training] needs to be more systemic. It needs to be more integrated into the school system.”

The roundtable discussion was attended by various local business leaders, Ohio politicians, university administration and YSU students. Photo by Christopher Gillett / The Jambar

The roundtable also talked about cutting down on childrens’ phone and social media usage in schools. DeWine said schools banning phones improves young students’ growth.

“We’ve even seen [from] schools that have banned phones during the lunch hour, is the teachers tell us that the lunch hour is very, very different,” DeWine said. “They’re interfacing with each other. They’re laughing. They’re going back and forth. They’re talking. That’s really what kids need.”

Adding onto DeWine’s points, Johnson said if more school systems implement phone bans, the results will show.

“As school systems begin to understand this — and as we begin to sideline the use of phones and technology in the classroom — parents are going to find out. It’s going to be a self-marketing thing, because [kids] are going to go home and say, ‘They’re not letting me have my phone at school,’” Johnson said.

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