COLUMBUS— State Reps. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) today introduced legislation to implement a statewide Loving Cities Index, a tool and framework that provides a comprehensive analysis of local systems of love and support in order to address racial disparities in learning outcomes and provide better opportunities for brighter futures. The Index framework draws from communities and a large body of evidence-based research to identify 25 indicators that represent the supports needed for students to have the opportunity to learn and achieve academic and economic success. Each indicator reflects key city policies and practices needed to provide all children with care, stability, commitment, and capacity.
The Loving Cities Index would help create a system of local and state policies and practices that provide all children and families with the following:
CARE – Through access to mental and physical health services from birth, nutritional food, and healthy community spaces;
STABILITY – Through consistent expectations and practices that reinforce a culture of inclusion and healing among students and adults;
COMMITMENT – Through economically and civically empowered communities that democratize access to healthy living and learning environments;
CAPACITY – Through well-resourced learning climates that meet the physical, emotional and academic needs of students.
“Each day, school systems serve thousands of students in neighborhoods where communities are failing to provide basic needs to their students, such as healthy food, affordable housing, safety, etc. Despite these challenges, school systems have graduated many students who have grown to become productive citizens. Yet, we still lose too many of our students and have to face the reality that we collectively must do better for our children who are our future. Doing better requires communities to provide a healthy living and learning environment to support the tireless work of students, parents, educators, grassroots advocates, and other stakeholders in our education system,” said Rep. Howse.
A new study by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) demonstrated that racial and geographic gaps persisted as K-12 students returned to their classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found a racial disparity in most states for whether students were learning online or in-person. The highest racial disparities were in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where on average, students of color were 21% and 23% less likely to have access to full-time, in-person learning. The gap between which students were learning virtually and which were learning in-person last year could exacerbate some of the educational disparities that already existed.
“It is clearly necessary that we address factors outside the classroom that negatively impact our children's success inside the classroom. This legislation will move those factors to the forefront. And it will help us keep the Ohio Promise that our students can learn and grow here in Ohio,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson.
The Loving Cities Index is currently used in 10 major cities across the U.S., and Ohio would become the first state to adopt the Index statewide.
The legislation now awaits a bill number and referral to a House committee.