Public schools and teachers have become a frequent target for some politicians. There are a variety of reasons, ranging from how schools are funded to what is being taught in the classroom.
Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss school funding in Ohio, broadband issues in the state, why Critical Race Theory is currently getting so much attention and more.
Ohio’s unconstitutional school funding
A decades old Ohio Supreme Court ruling found Ohio’s school funding to be unconstitutional. Cropper said the Ohio House of Representatives has worked on a fix to the problem for three years. Once it passed the House and was sent to the Senate, the Senate came up with their own plan in a few short weeks.
While the Senate put together their fix in a matter of weeks, it does not address core issues and instead puts a two year band aid on the problem. The Senate passed this bill, meaning both the House and Senate version are currently with a conference committee. This committee will decide on which plan to base the budget.
Cropper said she believes the Ohio Senate is working to expand vouchers and private schools. By not working on a long term solution to school funding, Republicans can further their push for privatization.
Fixing Ohio’s broadband issues
The COVID-19 pandemic further showed the need to expand broadband access in rural areas. While Ohio was working on resolving the issue by allowing municipalities to develop broadband programs, Ohio Senate Republicans pulled the plug on the provision, handing a win to large providers.
Cropper said broadband is becoming crucial infrastructure. Work and school is difficult in these modern times without access to quality internet.
Critical Race Theory becomes a major theme
Critical Race Theory has become a major rallying point for state and federal Republicans. According to Britannica, the theory was officially organized in 1989 and is not currently being taught in most schools. However, the issue has stuck and is a current focal point.
Cropper said the issue is being used to demonize public schools and public school teachers in order to push privatization. Private schools are not required to teach the same things as public schools, making them echo chambers for parents who do not want their children learning about the atrocities of U.S. history.
Laws against Critical Race Theory are being used to eliminate uncomfortable topics from the classroom. Under many of the bills, parents are able to issue complaints against teachings they deem divisive.