The framers of the 1851 Ohio Constitution, when mandating the state to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools could have used the term “public” instead of “common.” Although the framers of the 1912 amendment (Article VI, §3) referenced the state school system as the “public school system of the state supported by public funds”, the meaning of the term “common” remained in tack. The term “common” as a descriptor of the school system has a discriminating significance in the ambiance of education.
In this context, the term “common” intimates community, commonality and shared purpose in the preservation and advancement of the republic. It connotes the responsibility of civic duty by both citizens and the state. “Common” suggests equality of opportunity and benefit with the result of advancing the public good.
The great educator, Horace Mann and many others of the mid-19th century envisioned a system that caters to all the children of all the people in contrast to augmenting special interests, religious convictions or other factions. The goal was to create a culture of the people, by the people and for the people. The culture created by the common school system of the North helped preserve the Union in the 1850s and 1860s.
It is so ironic and disgusting that Ohio law refers to charter schools as community schools. Ohio charterville is antithetical to the constitutional mandate for the common school system. The charter venue terminates the social compact between communities and the common school system. It segregates and diminishes the commonwealth. It caters to special interests and factions. It is a blemish on democracy. It is not of the people, not by the people and not for the people.
How can a public school advocate say, “I have no problem with charter schools?” An understanding of the history of the common school would lead to a different conclusion.
The common school is as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. The charter kingdom is a foreign entity. The common school community should look to its roots. America is great because of the common schools system. What will happen to America if the common system is diminished or if it is eliminated?