Canary in the community

Schools are the canary in the community, penned an astute letter writer from one of the countless Ohio communities with school levies on the May 3 ballot. What a perfect analogy. Yet unlike the canary in a coal mine, closely monitored as a harbinger of coming crisis, the fiscal condition of public schools in the state is ignored by policy makers who are unwilling to give the crisis an urgent response.

But the near financial collapse of some districts may force Columbus to reconsider its indifference. Until Gov. John Kasich's proposed budget yanked life-support funding from schools and left educators in budget-induced shock, people liked to pretend that the gasping canary in their midst wasn't that sick.

They assumed the cornerstone of the community could take even more abuse, get by with less, and still make quantum leaps in academic excellence. What a perfect illusion. But it worked for Mr. Kasich and Republican lawmakers, who took teachers down a few notches and cut school funding to ludicrous levels.

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