Invest in Public Education

Think Tank, Policy Matters Ohio, recently released a report titled "State of Working Ohio 2012. The Report has many interesting findings, but we wanted to parse out 2 of the major ones, especially as it related to education and working people.

Education pays, but Ohio isn’t passing that test. Over the past generation Ohioans have dramatically increased their education levels. This is a good thing, because compensation at lower education levels is shrinking. But other states are investing much more and reaping bigger rewards. And in the most recent state budget, we cut both K-12 and universities, keeping our students back.

Instead we should invest in education, from pre-K through college and beyond.

The graph below highlights this findings and recommendation

This becomes especially important, given the news we reported on just a few days ago, namely, the new school year bringing yet more cuts. This short-sighted policy by the Governor was highlighted by an editorial in the Plain Dealer

Ohio's economic prospects depend on a well-educated work force -- hard to achieve when budget cuts force schools to lay off teachers and shorten the school day.
Gov. John Kasich, whose administration is working on a long-delayed revamp of the state's school-funding formula, should make sure his approach offers extra money and other incentives to superintendents and school boards willing to create efficiencies through radical restructuring, as in Cleveland, or via mergers or the sharing of services or personnel with other districts.

Which brings us to the second finding and recommendation that the Policy Matters report includes

Unions give workers leverage and a voice. Aggressive employer anti-union practices and public policy that discourages organizing have taken their toll. As unions have eroded, so have worker wages and benefits and family well being. States with the lowest levels of unionization have the worst wages, states that combine union friendliness and education investments do best. Ohio voters spoke loud and clear last year in retaining collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

Ohio should retain and expand policies that help workers organize and preserve a collective voice.

The differences are quite stark

Destroying collective bargaining was another misguided policy choice made by the Governor. Unlike his radical defunding of education however, voters were able to overturn and repeal his union busting efforts.

The evidence is in abundance - we need to strengthen the middle class by investing in public education, the results will lead to a strong more vibrant Ohio.