The Ohio Constitution (Article VI, sections 2 and 3) requires the state to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools and provide for the organization, administration and control of the system. School district boards of education have the constitutional and statutory responsibility to administer the educational program. Boards of education have the fiduciary duty to ensure the educational needs of all resident students are met in an equitable and adequate manner.
The state’s first obligation is to ensure that a thorough and efficient system is established and maintained. The state has no right under the Ohio constitution to fund alternative educational programs that diminish moral and financial support from the common school system. Ohio’s system of school was declared unconstitutional more than two decades ago, yet since that time $11 billion have been drained from the public school system for publicly-funded, privately-operated charter schools. This egregious flaw in state policy must be addressed.
Jan Resseger of Cleveland Heights, Ohio has aptly defined state and local responsibility for education as follows:
A comprehensive system of public education, that serves all children and is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public, is central to the common good. ~Jan Resseger, Heights Coalition for Public Education
The education platform premised on the constitutional responsibility of the state of Ohio as stated in the preamble is:
Ohio must provide adequate and equitable funding to guarantee a comparable opportunity to learn for all students. This includes a quality early childhood education, qualified teachers, a rich curriculum that will prepare students for college, work and community, and equitable instructional resources.
Reject School privatization and top-down management of school districts by appointed overseers. It has proven to be ineffective at bringing efficiency and cost savings to our schools.
Respect local control of public school districts governed by elected boards of education. There are different needs for different schools of different sizes, and each local school board knows what their students and communities value.
Eliminate state-imposed takeovers of schools. State takeovers of school districts (HB 70), followed by the appointment of CEOs with power to override the decisions of elected school boards and nullify union contracts, is undemocratic, unaccountable, and without checks and balances.
Work towards a moratorium on the authorization of new charter schools. Charter schools remove funding and other valuable resources from public school districts and need to be phased out. For-profit charter schools should be eliminated – tax dollars should never be transferred into private profits.
End vouchers and tuition tax credit programs. Voucher schemes take desperately needed dollars out of state education budgets and undermine the protection of religious liberty as defined by the First Amendment.
Strongly encourage wraparound community learning centers that bring social and health services into school buildings and ensure that the public schools are the center of the neighborhood. These wraparound services include health, dental, and mental health clinics, after school programs, and parent support programs. Cincinnati Public Schools has a very successful model.
End test-and-punish policies. The tests have narrowed the curriculum to the tested subjects. If national standardized testing is to continue, testing should be limited to the federal minimum guidelines.
High stakes should be removed, and school districts, schools, and teachers shouldn’t be punished for students’ scores. When parents opt their children out of testing, no one should be penalized. A philosophy of punishment should be replaced by an ideology of school investment and improvement.
Restore respect for well-trained, certified teachers. Research demonstrates that judging teachers by their students’ scores are unreliable and inaccurate. Phase out Ohio’s Teach for America program.
Inspired by Jan Resseger: https://janresseger.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/my-public-education-platform/