A U.S. Army Veteran, Matthew “Matt” McGowan is a lifelong Ohio resident with a passion for service. From 2009-2012, Matt was one of three elected Libertarians in the state of Ohio, serving as a Councilman for the city of Cheviot. He currently resides in Liberty Township, Ohio with his wife and four children, where he serves as a County Development Coordinator for the Libertarian Party of Ohio and is the Vice-President of the Lakota Sports Organization.
Matt attended two of the most prolific schools in the state, graduating from Cincinnati LaSalle High School after completing grade school at the now defunct Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education (CAPE). He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology from Capella University, one of the pioneers in online, competency-based education. It is this diversity of educational background that gives Matt a unique perspective on how best to address the problems facing public education today.
BA, Information Technology, Capella University
I think standardized testing does far more harm than good. No two people learn at the exact same speed in the exact same way, so why do we think testing them in the same exact way will give us an accurate picture of their overall competency? I think it would be beneficial to move towards a competency based educational model that allows teachers and administrators to evaluate students progress based on what they see, but overall, the emphasis needs to be on learning, rather than testing.
I have several problems with the Academic Distress Commission taking over low-performing schools, the first being who exactly judges them as "low-performing" and by what standard. Using a standardized evaluation model that doesn't take into account the challenges different school districts may face simply cannot be used to provide a fair evaluation of what might be wrong and what may need fixed. I believe that the parents, teachers, and stakeholders (i.e. taxpayers) in each school district are better equipped to determine what works best within their individual districts. Based on the data available, it seems that the more control we give the state and federal governments over education, the more poorly our schools perform. Therefore, turning these schools over to the state seems counter-productive, at a minimum.
I would say the most important qualities for a state superintendent would be to ensure schools are performing at a high standard while ensuring they are responsible stewards of taxpayer money. The fact that we are spending more money on public education than ever before, while all available data shows Ohio's ranking in education continues to decline, seems to indicate that the current superintendent is not doing the best job possible, though admittedly the odds are stacked against him.
I think moving to a competency-based model for public education would have the most immediate positive impact on student performance. Even the U.S. Depart of Education acknowledges that "competency-based learning systems help to save both time and money", and can "create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students." This sounds like something that would immediately benefit our students and families.
I think the State of Ohio should take a good look at studies that show just how harmful the increasingly powerful standardized testing industry has been to education in this country over the last decade. We have gone from giving children the skills they need to learn, to basically bombarding them with facts repeatedly, forcing them to memorize them in order to pass a test. This accomplishes absolutely nothing when it comes to helping children learn. It is long past time for the public education system to move away from standardized testing based on arbitrary standards, and back towards encouraging the natural inquisitiveness of our students by focusing on providing them with the skills they need to become successful, engaged adults.
Again, I think any standardized evaluation model that doesn't take into account the challenges different school districts may face simply cannot be used to provide a fair evaluation of what might be wrong and what may need fixed.
No, this is another area I feel is better left to local communities to decide how they want to handle.
I like ensuring that low-income families have a choice in where they can send their children to school. However, voucher programs often have the unintended consequence of negatively impacting private schools by inviting more government oversight and control as a result of accepting them. When that happens, instead of lifting everyone up as intended, there is too much of an opportunity to drag everyone down to the same level, instead. Charter schools, on the other hand, have shown a lot of promise and have generally received rave reviews from parents I have talked to. While they are funded with tax dollars in the same way as any other public school, they are often free from many of the bureaucratic rules and requirements that traditional public schools have to follow. I would suggest that instead of increasing access to charter schools, we would be better served removing those same bureaucratic rules and requirements from all public schools by returning control of them to local jurisdictions.
I have 40+ years of government and executive nonprofit leadership experience. I currently provide professional consulting for strategic planning and community engagement.
BS in Business Administration from Central State University
Ohio students’ graduation requirements should include stakeholders agreed upon pathways, which may include standardized test, that clearly demonstrate the skills and knowledge students have acquired for post graduate success.
Because those closest to the student and school know them best, I believe that low performing school districts should have the opportunity and primary responsibility for its turnaround plan with support of identified local stakeholders and in partnership with state leaders.
The most important qualities for a state superintendent of schools are: understanding of education policies and practices; being able to communicate and champion a shared vision; good listening skills and the ability to build cohesive, impactful relationships among all stakeholders, including parents and students, for a high quality, competitive education system that meets the unique needs and aspirations of every Ohio child. I do believe Superintendent DeMaria is perfecting the right things in this job.
The most immediate positive impact on student performance would include working with parents and community members, as true partners, to ensure every child has the right supports and resources so the system can adequately and uniquely meet students where they are to ensure their educational success. In addition, ensuring that teachers have workable class sizes where the needs and aspirations of each student is cultivated and realized.
I would like for state officials to study alternative ways to access whole child development from grades PreK-12 without heavy reliance on standardized tests.
Currently, schools and districts are rated using the report card which is very complicated. Neither the report card nor the summative letter grade should be the sole determinant of a school’s or district’s performance. There are many factors that could impact a school’s performance including non- academic factors such as poverty, race, socioeconomic barriers and staff shortages. There needs to be a consensus on the report card itself and its elements for measuring the schools’/districts’ performance. Fair and equitable accountability measures should be agreed upon prior to authorizing any alternative education governance and financial resources. In addition, the report card should be easily understood and interpreted by parents and members of the general community.
Yes, I support expanded state support for preschool and supporting families before a child enters school because this is necessary to ensure all students begin on a level playing field and have the same opportunity for educational success.
Learning should be designed to meet the unique needs and aspirations of each child. Parents should have available to them educational options that ensure their child's success. There should be fair and equal academic and financial accountability requirements for all of Ohio’s educational options for parents. And while no education option should be used to make a profit off of our children, all options are entitled to cover its operating expenses through efficient governance and business practices.
2012-2016 Executive Director of the Montgomery County Democratic Party
1984-2011 English/Spanish Teacher at Northmont High School in Clayton, OH
1981-1984 English Teacher at Morgan City High School in Morgan City, Louisiana
1981 Master of Science in Education; University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio
1978 Bachelor of Arts in English; University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio
1974 Madeira High School in Madeira, Ohio
A genie out of the bottle, standardized testing for graduation began in 1990 with the Ohio Graduation Test. Returning to a day when testing is not used to measure student success is not politically feasible in the near future. Current Ohio High School Graduation requirements effective for the class of 2019 are quite rigorous relying primarily on end of course tests or other kinds of tests. Denying a diploma to a student who passes courses, but not standardized end of course exams, reflects an over reliance on high stakes testing to measure student achievement.
Because all students do not best demonstrate what they have learned by taking a test, I would allow students other means, such as portfolios or projects, to demonstrate that they are prepare for career or college.
I am concerned for those students who struggle to demonstrate what they’ve learned through a test. These requirements rely too heavily on a student’s ability to be a good test taker. Test taking is not a life skill.
I do not support Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission law. It is based on the premise that schools are failing and that outsiders can do better. The Academic Distress Commission has taken over Lorain’s and Youngstown’s schools. Those schools are not doing any better with outsiders in charge. Control of those schools needs to be returned to the locally elected school boards. Students don’t achieve academically when they are not provided the resources to focus on their academic growth. Those working in the building, students, and parents need to be asked what resources they need to be successful. The state should then provide those resources. The State of Ohio’s Constitution requires a thorough and efficient education for all of Ohio’s students. Ohio needs to provide the resources to make student success possible for all students.
I would work to have school districts have the resources to implement grassroots change like that shown in Cincinnati Learning Centers. In these schools, the schools, parents, social service organizations worked together to improve not only their schools, but also their community. This kind of organic change needs to be implemented by a community, not imposed from the outside as occurs with Academic Distress Commissions.
A state superintendent needs to be an educator with the ability to manage Ohio’s Department of Education. He should be able to bring stakeholders together to find meaningful solutions to the challenges Ohio’s education systems face. He should be able to lead Ohio’s Board of Education in such a way that the Board leads the way for Ohio’s public schools and the legislature supports that leadership. I do believe that Superintendent DeMaria’s leadership is taking Ohio’s schools in the right direction.
Ohio could reduce the time and resources spent on testing and increase the time and resources spent on instruction. Resources could be redirected to reducing class size, providing remediation, and providing mentoring for parents.
Yes. I would like the Ohio Department of Education to study the impact of poverty and racism on our students and take measures to make a more just educational system.
I feel upset and angry about the current system of ranking schools based on test performance. Tests are a snapshot of how students are doing at a particular moment in time. Testing data provides information to educators to assess curriculum and to adjust instruction. Currently, Ohio’s over-use of and over-reliance on high-stakes tests punishes students, teachers, and schools. That is a misuse of testing data. Ohio needs to address the constitutional issues brought up by the Ohio Supreme Court in the 1997 DeRolph decision.
Schools with high concentrations of poverty would be better served by resources to provide the safe environment of after school programming, such as recreational activities, remediation and enrichment programs. This use of resources supports families and provides activities that contribute to student achievement.
I support expanded state support for preschool and supporting families before a child enters school. All public education is underfunded. Pre-school education is underfunded. The problem is not how we share the education dollars in Ohio. The problem regarding Ohio’s school funding is found in the DeRolph decision. Ohio’s schools are not adequately or equitably funded. This is related to Ohio’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund our schools.
The time in America’s history when the achievement gaps were the smallest was when our schools were more integrated as a result of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. As charter schools and private school vouchers have contributed to a re-segregation of Ohio’s and America’s public schools, we are seeing a widening of the achievement gap. I would like to see education policies and practices that lead to greater diversity in public schools rather than a system of boutique schools that isolates students by socio-economic factors and race.
When the school movement began in Ohio, the creators promised to more effectively educate students who were not finding success in traditional public schools. Data shows that this promise remains unfulfilled. They also promised that their charter schools, released from regulations, would become incubators of best practices that would help to improve traditional public schools. This promise also remains unfulfilled. Charter schools have been in Ohio for over 20 years. I would like to see them held accountable to their promises. I think more effective oversight of all charter schools is required.
The school choice movement has effectively divided those of us who want every child to have a high quality public education so that we fight over insufficient resources.
I am opposed to for-profit charter schools because making money off the backs of taxpayers and students is simply wrong. I am opposed to online charter schools used in isolation. I think education is so much more than student interaction with a computer providing skill and drill programs. I am appalled at the current revelations regarding ECOT’s misuse of funds. The funds misappropriated by ECOT should have been allocated to local school districts to benefit students. Fiscal accountability for all charter schools is a must.
I think that it is possible to have responsible charter and online schools. Current practice in Ohio does not provide sufficient fiscal or academic oversight for charter and online schools.
Private school education has a proud tradition of serving Ohio students well. Private schools retain the ability to turn away or dismiss students that are not working out in their system.