Ohio’s public school system has been under attack for years by state politicians. Groups are working to advocate for public schools and find ways to improve them throughout the state.
Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding (OCEAFS) is one such group that has been taking on the task for nearly three decades. OCEAFS Executive Director William Phillis joined the AWF Union Podcast to provide an update on the recently signed Ohio budget, the Fair School Funding Plan and the school voucher system.
Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding
The OCEAFS has been hard at work since 1992 attempting to improve the public school system in Ohio. Phillis has been with the coalition since that same year.
He previously worked for the Ohio Department of Education and traveled the state to witness the conditions of all types of schools. He saw horrible inequity and inadequacies in school buildings during this time. Seeing these conditions caused him to work with the OCEAFS to try to improve schools.
Ohio’s new budget
Four different times the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state’s school funding system was unconstitutional. According to Phillis, the issue was kicked down the road for years, partially because certain representatives were satisfied with the issues for personal reasons.
He praised the Fair School Funding Plan, which was included in the new state budget. While it is good news that the plan was included, it is only funded for two years. He said it could have been funded for six years, but the Ohio Senate decided only two were necessary for now.
The unconstitutionality of Ohio’s school funding plan worries Phillis, who said it was nearly fixed during the Strickland administration. Strickland designed a plan to make the funding constitutional, but Gov. Kasich abandoned the plan.
Voucher system in Ohio
Phillis criticized the Ohio Senate for adding additional funding for private school vouchers. This has been a long time goal of Ohio Republicans seeking to undermine the public school system. The additional funding shows there was money available to be used for Ohio’s public school system instead of private schools.
The Ohio Senate also added provisions to give tax credits to residents who give money to voucher coordination programs and to guardians who homeschool their children.