March 24, 2021 is the 24th anniversary of the DeRolph decision! On March 24, 1997, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that the state funding system “fails to provide for a thorough and efficient system of common schools,” as required by the Ohio Constitution and directed the state to find a remedy. The problems with Ohio’s school funding system remain to this day.
Instead of creating a system that is no longer overly reliant on the passage of local operating millage, some state leaders in Ohio continue to expand private and parochial school options. Charters and vouchers divert state funding out of school district budgets and force voters to replace this funding with additional local operating levies. How is that fair and equitable?
Ohioans were stunned by the failure of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee which did not even hold open hearings on the bipartisan “Fair School Funding” bill (SB 376) in late 2020 that would have finally addressed the state’s unconstitutional and inequitable school funding formula.
Public Education Partners (PEP) created this CHANGE petition asking Sen. Matt Huffman, Sen. Matt Dolan, Gov. Mike DeWine, and the 134th Ohio General Assembly to reintroduce the current Fair School Funding Plan when they reconvened in 2021. Over 600 people have signed so far.
MANY THANKS to Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney and Rep. Jamie Callender for introducing House Bill 1 in February 2021, a policy that is virtually identical to last General Assembly’s House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 376!
The re-introduced Fair School Funding Bill (HB1) may be undergoing some revisions that are not needed, nor beneficial. It does not make sense for legislators to think that they have the knowledge and expertise to change a funding plan that was created and vetted over the course of three years by a bipartisan team of elected leaders, school treasurers, and education finance experts.
As for the Ohio Senate, PEP has heard that some senators will want a high price in return for supporting the bill by demanding even more school voucher expansion. “School choice” distractions have been the major hindrance to the development of a thorough and efficient system of common schools as required by the Ohio Constitution.
Derek Black, author of Schoolhouse Burning, summarizes trends about the lack of adequate and equitable school funding- many that have occurred here in Ohio: “Public education cuts initially looked like a response to the recession—overzealous and foolhardy, but understandable. In retrospect, the cuts look sinister. They came while states exponentially grew charters and vouchers—and remained in place well after the recession passed and state revenues were booming. To add insult to injury, various legislative mechanisms driving charter and voucher growth come at the direct expense of public schools. The contrasting reality of public schools and their private alternatives looks like a legislative preference for private school choice over public school guarantees… The most troubling thing is that it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar or education historian to recognize that something strange has happened. Politicians and advocates have taken on an unsettling aggressiveness toward public education.” (Schoolhouse Burning, pp. 226-227)
It is time to fix the school funding system. House Bill 1 satisfies Ohio’s obligation to provide every public school in the state with the resources it needs to deliver a high-quality education to every student.
Please ask your state leaders to support HB1 as written to ensure that no student or public school is disadvantaged because of income level or location. Find your legislators’ contact information here. Call and/or email them to let them know that House Bill 1, the FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING PLAN, will provide an equitable, comprehensive, and transparent funding model that will change the face of public education for 600+ School Districts and 1.7 million students across Ohio.
OHIO KIDS CAN’T WAIT any longer for Fair School Funding.