There is a phrase embedded in the mind of almost every American. In a way, it defines what it means to be an American. Concerned parents, conscientious teachers, and high school football coaches spout it off: “Hard work pays off.” Without a doubt, hard work is important. Few climb the ladder of success without it. However, leverage is just as important as hard work. Leverage takes hard work and magnifies its effect. Leverage involves simultaneously working hard and working smart. Great things are occurring in Ohio as a result of not only hard work, but also smart work that is appropriately leveraged.
Some see education in the United States like the story of Sisyphus—rolling a heavy load up a hill only to see it tumble back down and starting the process anew. Are we destined to backbreaking work with no yield? While pessimists espouse this narrative, educators from all over the great state of Ohio have combined efforts in a collaborative attempt to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
The Ohio Dean’s Compact is a group that is a great cross section of stakeholders from all over the state. We spoke to Compact members and upcoming CEEDAR intensive technical assistance (TA) recipients from Ohio, Drs. Deborah Telfer and Aimee Howley. Deb is the director of the School of Education and Health Sciences Grant Center at the University of Dayton. Aimee is a faculty member emeritus from Ohio University. Both are members of the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children; Aimee is the vice chair, and Deb is the principal investigator and project director.
The Compact’s purpose is to consider how educators can improve Ohio’s system of preparation and ongoing personnel development so that all general and special educators, specialists, principals, and others who come through the Ohio education system are better able to support students with disabilities or students of marginalized groups. Individuals involved in the Compact include institutions of higher education (IHE) deans and faculty, district partners, association representatives, state officials, and more. Aimee stressed the variety of the work going on at the Compact, emphasizing the breadth of issues the Compact aims to improve for all students. With the help of the Ohio Deans Compact, CEEDAR will certainly have an advantage going into intensive TA. Such a diverse but dedicated group allows small gains in certain areas to be leveraged and multiplied in others.
Ohio’s existing efforts through the Dean’s compact align well with CEEDAR’s mission. Deb and Aimee hope that CEEDAR’s involvement will bring a national presence to the Compact’s efforts in Ohio. We at CEEDAR are confident that we will leverage successes in Ohio and implement them into TA all over the United States.