Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

This election season yielded few surprises--Republicans cleaned the clocks of Democrats all across the nation as predicted. And school levies all across Ohio were defeated.

Despite the fact that the school funding system in Ohio has been declared unconstitutional, little has been done in the way of fixing the system. So schools, big and small, urban, rural, and suburban must continually go begging their communities, hat in hand, for money to keep the school doors open and buses running. It is a messed up system and Columbus continues to ignore the problem. With an $8 billion budget gap to fill in Ohio, a long term fix is nowhere on the horizon.

I was being interviewed for NPR last week about the elections and happened to mention a school levy I worked on in my community which failed--a bitter pill for me personally to swallow. They asked me to write a post for their blog. You can read it here.

9 comments:

AJ Halliwell said...

If I was a political science major, I think my Honors Project would be "Why do School Levies Fail?"

I feel like levies are a big part of fixing the broken suburbs of Ohio. They focus so hard to bring in businesses, but I feel the point of suburbs is to be near the major city (who's responsibility it is to bring in major businesses) and then the suburbs responsibility it to focus their attention on keeping their school and public services (pools, libraries, parks) the absolute most amazing things ever. But maybe I'm crazy.

Anonymous said...

⸮No worries. Maybe soon schools will be privatized and all budget woes will disappear. Schools will even turn a profit too⸮

(The "⸮" denotes an "irony mark", punctuation used in this instance to signal the use of sarcasm)

Craig Wesson said...

Don’t mean to come off like a jerk, but money isn’t the problem with Ohio schools. Newsweek ranks the best high schools in the country every year, and the top schools tend to be concentrated in the south and west. My high school in Virginia, Princess Anne, was ranked #123 in the nation this year. Midwestern schools definitely lag behind, but why? Midwestern teachers are heavily unionized. Now before you start calling me names consider this, I don’t know what’s going on in Green but in Macedonia student enrollment has dropped off, yet faculty has increased. Furthermore, teachers in Macedonia make around 60,000 or 70,000 a year. I have no problem with this price tag, teachers are essential to society, but people should know that’s where the levy money is going. Levies need to be shot down, these unions are holding communities hostage and threatening the kids if they don’t get their way. In Macedonia we were told that if the levy didn’t pass, our cooking teacher and cartooning teacher would be laid off. Not very threatening. There is a lot of fat to be cut from our schools if you know where to look, and if communities can neutralize the teachers unions, levies would fly into law faster than they could be drawn up.

DC said...

Every school district is different. In Green, teachers are not overpaid especially compared to other districts across Ohio. Teachers in Green have not gotten a raise in 3 years. The administration has cut the "fat" and they are now at the bone. Money IS the problem as costs (including unfunded mandates) have gone up and revenue, in real dollars, has gone down.

I find the comment: "Levies need to be shot down, these unions are holding communities hostage and threatening the kids if they don’t get their way" ridiculous bullet-point rhetoric. It's all case-by-case. As a teacher at the university level, I have grown weary of the attack on teachers. Overall, K-12 teachers work their cans off for relatively little pay versus the private sector. The overwhelming majority are hard-working and dedicated yet they have become villifed.

In the end, the kids will suffer. In Green's case, a minimum of 60 teachers will be fired. This is not an idle threat--it will happen. We will approach 40 kids in a class, academic programs (such as gifted) will be decimated, bus routes will cut/eliminated, and sports & extra-curricular will be pay-to-play. Meanwhile, all those folks who wanted to "send a message" to the schools will be complaining about the fact that their $300,000 home they can't afford is dropping in value. Why? Because the schools, which used to be excellent, will be bursting at the seams in the classrooms and will be mediocre or worse. And the people who used to to move to Green because of the excellent schools, will move elsewhere.

Failure to invest in the schools is a failure to invest in the kids and the community. It is short-sighted and immoral in my opinion. I at least sleep soundly at night knowing that I never have, and never will, vote against kids.

DC said...

For more info on the Green levy and schools, see:

http://gson.greenforkids.org/

DC said...

AJ--that would be a great honors project...

Anonymous said...

I think you should move your family to Middleton Wisconsin, the top rated small city in America, from Money Magazine - circa 2008.

DC said...

Yes but I heard their schools are full of mold & their administrators are Vikings fans...

Anonymous said...

doesn't keep any of us from moving forward

come and try it out - maybe your son would stop crying

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