Public schools have been at the forefront of COVID-19 conversations, as some believe schools should be open for in-person instruction, while others believe schools should wait until educators can be vaccinated and provide a safe learning environment.
Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper gave an update on Ohio school funding, issues with some schools as they plan to reopen by March 1 and inequity experienced by urban districts on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Funding Ohio’s schools
Cropper discussed a funding bill that failed in the last assembly. The bill passed through the Ohio House of Representatives with overwhelming support, but was blocked in the Ohio Senate by Senator Matt Huffman. She said Huffman is notoriously anti-union and has pushed school vouchers as a way of stripping funding from public schools.
Cropper hoped Gov. DeWine would put the funding from the bill into his budget, but he decided against it. This frustrates Cropper and other educators who would like to see public schools receive better funding.
Issues with schools reopening
Gov. DeWine used the reopening of schools to blast some of Ohio’s urban districts, who are facing hardships as they try to meet the Governors demand to reopen by March 1.
In Cincinnati, one school in the district has decided not to reopen after a community vote and decision that the building does not allow students to properly social distance.
In Cleveland, Cropper said the public has not voiced outcry about returning to school in-person. Despite this, the district is working as hard as they can to reopen. The main problem is that many teachers have not been vaccinated.
Cropper said the criticism of these schools was opportunistic. It seems the attacks were a way to score political points within his party, where he has been criticized by some.
Inequity in Ohio’s schools
Cropper took a minute to discuss the importance of Black History Month. She said progress has been made with respect to the treatment of Black students, however, inequity remains.
She cited voucher programs being instituted in majority Black communities. These programs encourage the use of vouchers for profit-driven schools outside of the community where students live. The participation in these programs is then used to advocate for more public funding of vouchers and less funding for public education.