Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ohio's School Choice Funding Scheme Costs Public School Kids

Now that Ohio's sending more than $1 billion this year to privately run Charter Schools and Private Schools through Vouchers, it is important to examine the impact of those decisions made in Columbus have on the 92% of Ohio's kids that do not attend Charters or Vouchers.

The impact is profound. Like asteroid or comet profound.

Looking at the January #1 payment (school districts get paid twice a month by the state), Ohio's new funding formula had allotted $6,666,455,622 to educate 1,713,587 children. However, when the $887,880,706 sent to Charter Schools is subtracted, along with the $143,494,178 in the state's Voucher programs, it leaves $5,635,080,738 to educate Ohio's children who remain in traditional public schools. Subtracting the 123,497 children in Charter Schools and 19,577 taking vouchers from the 1,713,587 listed earlier leaves 1,570,513 children to share in the $5,635,080,738.

Prior to the Charter and Voucher deductions, Ohio provided $3,890, on average, to the state's 1,713,587 children. However, after Charters and Vouchers remove their money and students from the formula, Ohio's kids are left with $3,588, on average. That is a difference of $302 per pupil, or 7.8%.

What does that mean? It means that because of the decisions made in Columbus, the 1,570,513 Ohio schoolchildren in traditional public schools get 7.8% less state money, on average, than the state formula says they need. Four years ago, that number was 5.9%. So Ohio's kids have lost, on average, 2% (a 33% increase) of their state revenue the last four years just because the state has decided to put more money into mostly underperforming Charter Schools and Voucher schools that also do not, on the whole, outperform the public schools.

And don't forget that's on top of the overall $515 million cut traditional districts have seen through the state formula and reimbursements over the last four years, leading to a record number (and cost) of local school tax levies to seek new revenue cover these state funding losses.

My question is this: at what point do Ohio's parents say, "Enough!"?

I get and am sympathetic to the argument that kids need opportunities to escape struggling schools. And I have little problem with the few really excellent school choice options that are out there that genuinely do give kids opportunities to achieve their potential.

But when the vast majority of those opportunities aren't any better (and are usually much worse) than the struggling school, and paying for these mostly worse options means the kids who remain in the struggling public school have far fewer resources with which to achieve, or the school to improve?

Well, I'm sorry. I just don't get that.