Bill Phillis, who was deputy superintendent of schools in Ohio, now spends his time advocating for public education in Ohio. He runs the Equity and Adequacy Coalition.

He writes:

“State policies supporting the privatization of public education are draining the life’s blood of the public common school


“From the advent of the 1851 thorough and efficient clause in the Ohio Constitution until the early 1990s, state, county (ESC) and local school officials worked, often times diligently, to improve educational opportunities to all school children and to extend opportunities to the previously unserved and underserved students. One efficacious strategy was to assemble a sufficient number of students in a central location to efficiently and effectively provide comprehensive high quality educational opportunities. School district consolidation, area/regional service centers, joint vocational school districts, special education consortiums, Ohio State School for the Blind, Ohio School for the Deaf, each linked to the strategy to provide high quality educational opportunities for all students.

“By the early 1990s the Ohio public common school system was poised to take significant strides toward a world class system for all students. The DeRolph school funding case highlighted the need for adequate fiscal resources, equitably distributed to accomplish excellence for all.

“Unfortunately, the Voinovich-initiated choice movement was cleverly orchestrated in ways to undermine the advancement and enrichment of the public common school system. The reorganization of several thousands of school districts into 612 districts took a century and a half to accomplish. In two decades, Ohio school entities have increased by about 400 and voucher schools have added hundreds of school entities funded by public tax dollars.

“The traditional public school system is being dismantled. The new paradigm is proving to be less efficient, less effective and less productive, and is completely irrational. The current education scenario is antithetical to the traditional public school effectual model that was emerging in the early 1900s. It is hostile to the education clauses (Article VI, sections 2 and 3) of the Ohio Constitution.

“The traditional public school system, due primarily to inadequate and inequitable funding, has defects and deficiencies that can be cured. The “choice” remedy (privatization) is wrongheaded. It is like the outmoded bloodletting medical practice of bygone days. This “cure” was counterproductive. History indicates that George Washington asked for a heavy dose of bloodletting for a throat infection. About 3.7 liters of blood was drained from him in a ten hour period. The Permanente Journal, Volume 8 NO.2 page 79 indicates that that procedure contributed to his death.

“The traditional public school system is being bled to death. What the public common school system needed was the analysis of a blood sample, not an ongoing draining of its life’s blood-students and the necessary resources.”

William Phillis
Ohio E & A
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