The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ohio's system of education was unconstitutional years ago. In fact, that ruling came down while I was still active as and educator/school administrator. I retired from public education in August, 2000 and the state continued to ignore the Ohio Supreme Court ruling; until now (January 28, 2009).
You and I, as private citizens, would be in a whole lot of "hot water" should we even dare to ignore a local court order let alone one from the state's highest court. I guess state governments are "above the law!"
But that's water over the dam(n) "oops!"
Governor Strickland today called for a complete overhaul of the state's school funding system. The Governor's plan would call for the state to assume 55% of the school's funding (it is expected to grow to 59% by the time his plan is fully implemented). When I was involved with public education the state funded education at a 47% level; during my time in public education that funding level dropped to 40% (maybe lower).
More and more of the burden of funding public schools was placed on individual home owners and that was a critical part of the Supreme Court ruling that found Ohio's school funding system unconstitutional. Despite the court's ruling, the state continued to shift more of the burden (for school funding) to home owners.
Since local school taxes in Ohio are one of the few taxes voters have a say in at the polls, these taxes issues were largely voted down in many of Ohio's communities. The result was serious financial difficulties by Ohio's schools and drastic cuts required to remain fiscally responsible. This was done at the same time when Ohio (and No Child Left Behind) demanded higher standards and presented serious consequences for "failing" schools. It was a vicious cycle and one that did not go without "pain."
Governor Strickland also outlined a number of measures that will be taken:
- The school year will be increased from 180 to 200 days
- All day kindergarten will be required
- The Ohio Graduation Test will be eliminated and will be replaced by the ACT college entrance exam
- School districts will be audited by the Department of Education to determine how well they are performing against state performance standards
- The State will take control of school districts that do not comply with new state academic standards as well as operating standards; the state will replace district leaders as well
There are other provisions in Governor Strickland's plan. Whether or not it will impact Ohio's schools is a matter yet to be seen but at least it's the first attempt in Ohio to address the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling of many years ago.