From the Superintendent



In December, I wrote to Ohio’s district superintendents asking them to help us battle a substance abuse problem that is robbing too many Ohio girls and boys of their critical learning years. We must take bold steps to intervene for our kids, and here’s why: Ohio drug overdose deaths increased 440 percent between 1999 and 2011, with prescription drugs driving that rise. Nearly 30 percent of Ohio’s high school students are using illegal prescription drugs, and one in 10 high school students recently reported they had first tried marijuana before age 13.

Schools can help turn the tide of student drug abuse, particularly by preventing first use, through the Know! program, part of a new, Ohio-focused drug prevention initiative called Start Talking! that Gov. John Kasich and First Lady Karen Kasich announced today. Know! is based on findings that children who talk with their parents and other authority figures about drugs are 50 percent less likely to use them. Know! arms teachers and parents with these communication tools to deliver a strong, consistent message, especially to middle school students:

Know! TEACHable Moments – these are one-page guides provided by the Drug Free Action Alliance and the Ohio Department of Education twice monthly. Teachers can use them for brief, anti-drug discussions in the classroom.

Know! Parent Tips – These can help parents become comfortable talking with their children about drugs at home, reinforcing what students hear at school.

Superintendents also can learn about an additional parent education program, as well as other programs schools can become involved in, at http://StartTalking.Ohio.Gov. These programs take little or no time from the school day, are easy to implement and are free of charge.

I sincerely hope that our school leaders will commit to making this initiative a priority in this new year. Please join us as we come together—parents, guardians, administrators and teachers—to build a drug-free future for Ohio’s boys and girls.

Thank you for all you do to prepare our students for a successful and healthy future. 


Dr. Richard A. Ross
State Superintendent of Public Instruction