Proposal heads to Congress

Anthony Holloway

Education majors take their idea to Washington D.C.

A sixth grade teacher took a group of Kent State students’ class project to the next level as she presented their education proposal to Ohio congressional leaders in Washington D.C. on April 29.

Nanci DiBianca, a teacher from Cuyahoga Heights Middle School, said she offered to propose the project after Michelle Martinez, one of her former students, showed her the project.

The group that constructed the proposal consisted of Toni Bilesimo, freshman early childhood education major; Lisa Griffith, freshman middle childhood education major; Martinez, freshman integrated language arts major; Bri Baldwin, intervention specialist major and Ashley Mowen, freshman integrated math major.

Martinez said she randomly decided to ask her former teacher about what she thought of the project. After explaining her group’s project to her, Martinez said DiBianca offered to take the education proposal to her next meeting with Congressional leaders.

DiBianca said she holds positions on the board of directors for the North Eastern Ohio Education Association, Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association. As a board member of the NEA, she is one of six elected members from Ohio currently serving a three-year term. She said she meets with congressional leaders regularly through NEA.

The Ohio leaders she planned to meet with are Sens. Sherrod Brown, possibly George Voinovich, and Ohio Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Marcy Kaptur and Betty Sutton.

“I think it’s the coolest thing ever,” Mowen said about the proposing of the project.

Martinez said she couldn’t believe Congressional leaders would see her group’s project.

“Initially, I was really excited. I didn’t believe it,” Martinez said. “Our project is actually being taken seriously.”

The girls received the project in the class called Education in a Democratic Society. Debra Clark, assistant professor of education and teacher of the class, said the project “is something new to

the semester.”

Clark said the class covered seven weeks of lecture on educational history, law, school funding and diversity in education. She said the second half of the semester allowed for students to apply the information in education.

Griffith said Clark played a big role in the group to make it happen.

“She really helped us to cement the ideas,” Griffith said.

The proposal, as described in the group’s final document, supports an individualized form of education called a Personalized Education Plan.

“The Personalized Education Plan is a written plan that identifies a child’s academic, physical, social and emotional needs and sets goals for meeting these needs.”

Students take a test each year to assess their strengths and weaknesses, which determines their PEP.

DiBianca said PEP isn’t a new concept, but the way the students’ plan proposes the funding of the program is “refreshing.”

“I think it’s wonderful and a really refreshing way to look at school funding,” DiBianca said.

DiBianca said PEP is an effective method of teaching, but the increased need in staffing makes the PEP a difficult program to support.

An example of an increase in staff needed under the group’s proposed PEP is the requirement to have a full-time guidance counselor for every 100 students.

The group’s plan purposed to fund PEP through a green tax, which is a tax imposed on products with green alternatives.

Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected].