School funding in Ohio and other states has been a festering problem for decades. Currently there is a proposed fix going through the Ohio statehouse, which would restore school funding in underserved communities and more.
Policy Matters Ohio has been at the forefront of the education funding debate and their Senior Project Director Wendy Patton joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss how school funding got to where it is, the Fair School Funding Plan and more.
The problem with school funding in Ohio
Ohio schools have been unconstitutionally funded for the past 25 years, when a switch was made to base school funding on property taxes. The change greatly lowered the quality of education throughout the state.
Metropolitan schools and poorer rural areas have seen less funding, limiting the quality of educational buildings, opportunities and the education itself. Patton said this is unfair and should no longer be tolerated. Every city should have quality schools and there is no reason to pit cities against each other to fight for additional funding.
Fair School Funding Plan
Patton said there is a plan called the Fair School Funding Plan, which has been three years in the making. This was a bipartisan plan that included the input of teachers, administrators, parents, students and other community members.
The plan seeks to address the main problems with school funding. Cities fail to find long term solutions and put short term band aids on issues, presenting levy after levy. Additionally, funds are diverted from schools and education funds have become piggy banks for other causes. Finally, the cost of education is continuously on the rise.
The Fair School Funding Plan looks at individual district funding and seeks to eliminate severe underfunding. Patton said this plan will require the state to pick up more of the funding.
Privatization of schools and funding
Patton later discussed a new bill in the Ohio statehouse, which seeks to increase funding for private charter schools and boost the voucher program. In Ohio, 90 percent of students attend public schools, while the remaining 10 percent attend private charter schools.
Patton said there is a silver lining to the legislation. The bill will finally separate public school funding and private school funding. This means that Ohioans will finally be able to see how many tax dollars are spent on charter schools.