One thing that's been noticably absent from the so-called "School Choice" debate has been the voice of parents who choose to send their children to traditional public schools. Perhaps that began to change yesterday as a group of Cincinnati-area parents marched on the statehouse, demanding that the state live up to its constitutional obligations.
I was a part of the news conference prior to the march, and I have to say I was impressed with the parents' enthusiasm and refusal to sit back and let the parents of the 6% of kids who attend Charter Schools have their voices heard while theirs remain silent. Again, 12% of the state's education funding goes to educate the 6% of children in Charter Schools. And the parents in Cincinnati, on average, see an $808 loss in state education money for each of their children because Charter Schools remove so much money from their district.
This is not an indictment of Charter Schools; it's an indictment of how the state's leaders have chosen to fund them.
These parents' demands are pretty simple (and should sound familiar): stop the state's overreliance on property taxes to pay for schools and develop a funding formula that properly accounts for the cost of an education.
There is little question the state needs to deliver property tax relief to overly burdened property owners. The Evidence Based Model would have required an increased commitment of about 1% of the state budget each year for 10 years. And property owners would have a decreased need for property taxes by about 13 mills, or about $400 per $100,000 home. All it would have required is increased commitment, not increased taxes.
I welcome the voices of the parents of Cincinnati and all around this state. For far more parents want to see their local schools improve, not abandoned to an alternative system.