Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cutting through the Rhetoric

Here's my letter to the editor for one of my local newspapers, the South Side Leader:

To the editor:What the Ohio General Assembly did last week to education is extremely troubling. While legislators are trying to fool the public into thinking that somehow they increased money for education, in fact, school districts are receiving $515 million less than they received from the state three years ago.
Three out of four Ohio school districts have less state revenue than they did then, including Green ($1.4 million), Manchester ($1.3 million), Mogadore ($389,000), Springfield ($1.1 million), Copley-Fairlawn ($2.8 million), Coventry ($760,000) and Revere ($3.5 million).And these cuts don’t include the additional money districts will be losing to charter schools, 70 percent of which will rate an F on the new report card. Currently, every kid not in a charter school loses 6.5 percent of their state money because charters remove so much from districts. Nearly every dollar sent to a charter from a South Side News Leader-area district goes to one that performs far worse than the district.
Finally, every district will be subject to losing money to private school vouchers, even if the school is highly rated.
In short, this budget represents an attack on public education. In the 2010-11 school year, 50 percent of the revenue for education came from the state — the first time that’s happened in three decades. Today, that number is back down to about 47 percent.
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled four times that the state’s duty is to reduce the need for property taxes to pay for schools. This budget will continue to increase the need. Since 2011, a record $1.3 billion in new levy money to fund operations have been before Ohio voters as property taxpayers continued to foot the bill for our legislators’ constitutional failure.To add insult to injury, since the state decided to eliminate state support of property tax cuts in this budget, anyone who voted for it will have voted for what could be the largest property tax increase in state history.
Stephen Dyer, Green (Stephen Dyer is a former District 43 [now District 36] state representative and current education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, a Columbus-based think tank.)
What's amazing, is this letter could be written about most every area of the state. Yet that's not what many are saying, accepting $1.8 billion less for education as the state's new funding reality. I fail to understand how it can be with a budget that has billions more in revenue than the one from three years ago.