In these tough economical times, it is easy to dole out rhetoric on how to solve the problems facing education, but it’s a little tougher to explain how to pay for it. Kind of an important point, don’t you think? At the risk of using a cliché, “talk is cheap,” and if politicians can’t answer this basic question, their promises are worthless.
Here in Ohio, it is certainly no different as we are facing an expected budget shortfall of $8 billion. So then how are you going to pay for it Mr. Strickland? The following is a brief synopsis of Governor Strickland’s stance on school funding.
1.) On School Funding
School funding is one problem that Governor Strickland voweled to resolve. In part, his solution was to shift the burden; the state went from funding 48% to 65%. This did reduce the reliance on local property taxes, which had been deemed unconstitutional by the state of Ohio. However, I don’t think it did much for the state budget. Nor does this mean we are no longer paying for it; just now it’s state taxes instead of local.
Governor Strickland also raised spending on education by at least 5% over two years. However, he neglects to mention that figure is only reached by including the $800 million from the federal stimulus package. Now what happens when the stimulus money is no longer there? By the way, there is no such thing as free money. After all, federal taxes fund the stimulus, and I bet you pay those too.
2.) Evidence Based Funding
Then there is the “Evidence Based Funding.” Now, we educators love to use that kind of phrase, but what does it really mean? In theory, it means that research was used to determine how and on what money should be spent. Of course, this assumes that the research is valid. Now, I’m not going to make any calls here, because I haven’t examined the research myself, and it does cover a lot of ground. I will say that I found a few skeptics, such as Collen Grady from thestateofohio.com , who are questioning it, and it may be worth pursuing at a later date.
Then there are the mandates that have risen out of “Evidence Based Funding.” For example, community outreaches, all-day kindergarten, and data collections are just a few. Now, these may really work, but who pays for them? The school district does.
3.) Waiver of School Fees
To make matters worse, in July 2009 Ohio’s law was revised (Ohio Revised Code 3313.642 ) so that those students who receive free and reduced lunches are no longer required to pay school fees. Not a problem for richer districts, but if you service a district where 70% of the population in on free and reduced lunch, you may be headed for a serious financial disaster.
4.) Post-secondary Education
As for post-secondary education, Governor Ted Strickland has a rather interesting approach. First, he did freeze tuition hikes for the past two years, and in the future, state supported schools will only be able to raise it by 3.5%. As the mother of a high school senior, I have to confess that I like this move. However, how does this help control the cost of these state-funded universities? One way that Governor Strickland is proposing is to cut duplicate programs. I like this, but will it be enough? I doubt it.
Of course there are other things I could have included such as funding for new buidings, but I didn’t want to write a book! Want to see the other side? Check out my article on John Kasich — coming soon.
Author’s Disclaimer: I had to wade through a lot of skewed information to research this blog, because people almost always allow their biases to color their thinking – even me. So I want to put all of my cards on the table, so you know exactly where I stand. I am a conservative independent. I am pro-education, but I am fiscally conservative. I also included some of the sites I used as references. Feel free to check them out yourself.