• Erin Rosiello

How Ohio's school policies short-change Ohio students

Since the early 1990s, the Ohio Supreme Court has held in four different decisions that the Ohio public school funding system was unconstitutional for failing to provide a “thorough and efficient” education for each Ohio student. Twenty years later, after multiple efforts to create a constitutional Ohio school funding formula, our legislators have yet to produce a sustainable funding system for public education.

Instead, our legislature has made it virtually impossible for local school boards to fund their schools without using a never-ending cycle of levies. In addition, legislators continue to adopt programs such as ECOT and EdChoice, that waste taxpayer dollars and weaken public schools. I that it is time that our legislature adopts a sustainable funding system to assure quality public schools for all Ohio students wherever they live. To that end, I will seek to ensure that Ohioans’ property taxes go to their district’s public schools rather than non-public schools and overreaching voucher programs.

Despite being deemed unconstitutional four times over the last 20 years, we are not any closer to finding a solution to how Ohio public schools are funded. We must do better.

Programs our legislature adopted, like The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) for online charter schools and EdChoice vouchers, short-change Ohio families and further compound our financial woes by shifting funds from public school districts to private schools.

ECOT saw more students fail to finish high school within four years than any other school in the country, with a 2014 graduation rate under 39%. In 2016, the Ohio Department of Education determined that ECOT had been overstating the number of students it served, wasting $80 million in state funding. Ohio has yet to recover even a fraction of the money lost.

While EdChoice originally proposed a way to provide low-income families in “poorly rated” school districts a private alternative through subsidized vouchers, the questionable criteria legislators have set for which districts qualify for the vouchers and how they are funded drain resources from struggling schools by forcing school districts to subsidize ex-students’ private educations from their own budget.

How can we expect our underperforming public schools to improve when they are forced to give away their budget to their private counterparts?

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