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Official: Public can fight school privatization

Published: Tue, May 8, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Denise Dick



To stop privatization of public education, citizens need to become active.

“Go to hearings, send 10 million emails to the governor and the legislators,” William L. Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, told about 200 people at Boardman High School Monday.

Phillis was a speaker at a public forum sponsored by township schools and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

Chief topics were charter schools and vouchers, both of which take money from public school districts, presenters said.

Nearly $780 million in state funding went to charter schools in fiscal year 2012 including $21 million from Youngstown, $696,000 from Austintown and $683,000 from Boardman school districts.

Even though the Ohio Supreme Court has declared the state’s school-funding system unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property taxes, the system remains in place.

Steve Dyer, Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio, pointed out that though state funding for traditional public schools in Ohio has decreased, it’s increased for charter schools — even though more than half of the former earn at least an A on state report cards, compared to nearly half of charter schools in Ohio earning D’s or F’s on the report card.

Public schools have to either cut programs or seek property tax increases to make up the difference, Dyer said.

He said it’s a myth that vouchers allow kids to be rescued from failing schools. Vouchers allow students from failing public schools to attend private schools using public dollars.

“Vouchers have little to no impact on student success,” Dyer said.

Gov. John Kasich is a supporter of the state’s voucher program, and has said “more choice, more accountability, more dollars in the classroom instead of bureaucracy will improve our schools, and we will have a significant reform agenda.”

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said there’s an attack on public education, which he believes is an essential element of democracy.

That attack is evidenced by efforts to create charter universities, by referring to traditional schools as government schools and by increasing funding for charter schools and vouchers, he said.

“Public education provides opportunities,” Strickland said.

“It provides ladders to increase our social and economic standing.”

But those who want to privatize it want education to adopt a manufacturing model, he said. Children, however, aren’t widgets, Strickland said.

Those attending were asked to provide their contact information and help with activities such as attend a statehouse rally, spread the word through social media, write letters to the editor or appear on talk shows.

“Our hope is that this is not just one more meeting,” Strickland said.


1ohioption(49 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the funding of public schools by relying on property tax is unconstitutional. But what are the school districts doing about it. Not much.

Springfield Local School District, which is rated Excellent with Distinction, passed a 1% income tax that remains in effect until 2016. The income tax is withheld form resident's wages by the Ohio Treasurer and paid to the school district every calendar quarter. This has replaced some property tax in Springfield.

Sebring Local School District has gone one step further by passing a 1% Earned Income Tax. That is a income tax that is assessed only based on a resident's earned income. Pensions, interest, dividends, royalties,etc. are not taxable since they are unearned income.

So why don't more school districts replace property tax with an income or earned income tax. This has been proposed to the Liberty Local School District and they promptly say "No". So they continue to wrestle with cutting staff in order to reduce their deficit and their chances of passing another property tax levy are slim to none because they are already maxed out as compared to other school districts in Trumbull county.

But trying to talk to these BOE members about fiscal responsibility and finding alternative means of raising revenue is useless. They don't understand what are their options.

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2doubled(210 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I find it amusing that so many of the people railing against public school funding are old. See, they've already sent their kids through public school and used all the taxpayer funds to do it. Now that there done, they scream, yell, and attend rallys about funding and too many taxes. Most of them don't even pay taxes. And then when they're done with their rallys, they stop off at the bank to cash their social security checks and then go to the doctor to grab up all the medicare benefits they can get. Yup, they're real patriots.

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3Philo(99 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

No one wants to admit that the elephant in the room is the fact that these other school alternatives were brought about by problems in the public schools. If the public schools were doing such a great job do you really think we'd have all of this competition? Think about it. The reason the Japanese started importing Toyota's here in the 70's stemmed from the fact that Ford and GM were selling us junk Pinto's and Vega's. Toyota filled a niche, much like these school alternatives are doing today.

Most people in the know will tell you that our public schools never really did that great of a job in the first place. We just didn't realize it, because you didn't need to know much to work in the mill or on the farm. Now that things have changed, our educational system must change as well. The increased competition will force the public schools to become better. In fact, I say give every child a voucher and allow him or her to spend it at the educational institution of their choice. The best schools will not only survive, they'll prosper.

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