Ohio leaders–Governor John Kasich and the Legislature–are determined to privatize public education, demoralize teachers, and generate profits for entrepreneurs and campaign contributors. Here is the latest from Bill Phillis, who is leading a campaign to stop the destruction of public education in Ohio. A former deputy commissioner of education, he leads the Ohio Education and Adequacy Coalition.
FY2014-FY2015 State Budget Proposal: “Education Reform” process must change
May 23, 2013
The recently adopted “education reform” process seems to follow these steps:
· State officials assume that any deficiencies in student test scores, behavior, work force readiness, college readiness, etc. are due to the lack of competence and dedication of boards of education, administrators, educators and staff in the public common school. (Of course, some of them believe poverty and home environment do not influence test scores, behaviors, etc.)
· State officials are provided model reform legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and seek advice from corporate leaders and others not working in the public common school system. A token representation of public education personnel may also be consulted.
· “Reforms” such as the parent trigger, vouchers, charter schools, mayoral control of schools, appointed commissions to assume part of the functions of boards of education, tuition tax credits, third grade guarantee, high stakes testing, replacement of teachers and administrators in “failing schools”, A-F report cards, etc. are enacted with the expectation that these quick fixes will work wonders.
· In all cases the local education community typically attempts to comply with the state’s reforms.
· When local educators and administrators don’t fully embrace these untested “reforms”, they are considered to be stuck in their old ways, resistant to change and not fit for the position they hold.
· Some state officials attempt to intimidate those who don’t “buy-in” to the ever changing “reform” ideas. Then local education personnel are told that they would buy-in if they really would take the time to understand the “reform.”
· When the “reform” measures don’t produce extraordinary results, the local education personnel are to blame and thus the system should be farmed out to the private sector.
Meaningful education reform involves a serious confrontation with all of the issues, particularly those associated with poverty and dysfunctional households. True reform is usually a costly endeavor which many state officials wish to ignore; thus, quick fixes-vouchers, charters, parent triggers, etc.-are put forth as the solution in lieu of dealing forthrightly with the funding necessary to effectuate improved outcomes.
In 1850 and 1851 some selected Ohio citizens came together as delegates to the Constitutional Convention that revised the 1802 Constitution. A majority of the delegates determined that the legislature had neglected public education and crafted the “thorough and efficient” mandate to state government.
In 1912 some selected citizens came together as delegates to another Constitutional Convention. The delegates crafted the “for the organization, administration and control of the public school system” constitutional provision which reinforced the “thorough and efficient clause.”
Subsequent to the 1912 amendment Governor Cox recommended and the legislature authorized the Ohio State School Survey Commission to study the public school system. This citizen commission issued a 300-page report laced with numerous recommendations. Governor Cox proclaimed November 14, 1913 as School Survey Day and convened the Educational Congress on December 5 and 6. The Congress was comprised of citizens from throughout the state. Four major “school reform” bills were passed in January 1914 as a result of these citizen-driven discussions and activities.
This citizen-driven process of “reform” served as a model in Ohio throughout the decades since 1912. However, in recent years, state officials have seemingly consulted an array of self-proclaimed experts and anti-public education activists but have neglected to seek counsel from those affected by state education policy decisions- Ohio citizens and public school personnel. It’s time to disengage ALEC and the advocates of privatization and engage Ohio citizens in education reform efforts.
Ohio E & A
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