Budget brings 2 dead policies back to life

The Governor's 4,200 page budget bill (HB 59) sees the reanimation of 2 education policy ideas that were overwhelmingly rejected in the previous legislature due to their unpopular and deeply destructive nature.

The first provision sees the Governor once again push the corporate reform idea of a statewide parent trigger. Here's the change in law he is proposing

Sec. 3302.042. (A) This section shall operate as a pilot project that applies apply to any school of a city, exempted village, or local school district that has been ranked according to performance index score under section 3302.21 of the Revised Code in the lowest five per cent of all public school buildings statewide for three or more consecutive school years and is operated by the Columbus city school district. The pilot project shall commence once the department of education establishes implementation guidelines for the pilot project in consultation with the Columbus city school district.

(B) Except as provided in division (D), (E), or (F) of this section, if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the students enrolled in a school to which this section applies, or if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the total number of students enrolled in that school and the schools of lower grade levels whose students typically matriculate into that school, by the thirty-first day of December of any school year in which the school is subject to this section, sign and file with the school district treasurer a petition requesting the district board of education to implement one of the following reforms in the school, and if the validity and sufficiency of the petition is certified in accordance with division (C) of this section, the board shall implement the requested reform in the next school year:

Over objections to this idea in the previous budget, the policy was scaled back to be a pilot program solely affecting Columbus City Schools. Since this "pilot" began, and despite many of the real and perceived problems with Columbus City Schools, not a single attempt has been made to pull "the parent trigger". Despite the failure of this pilot program, and without any working evidence that such a policy mechanism could succeed, the Governor wants to once again spread this community busting idea throughout the entire state.

Here's what people thought of the idea last time around

For further discussion on the failures of parent trigger laws, our previous posting can be found here.

The second zombie policy idea to be resurrected by the Governor was even more solidly rejected when it was introduced as HB136. HB136 sought to eliminate the restrictions on Ohio's current voucher programs (╩║Ed Choice╩║ and "Cleveland Scholarship") and instead open participation statewide on the basis of family income. The idea was so bad that even the author of the bill called it a "potential doomsday" for public education. The bill prompted more than 400 boards of education to pass resolutions opposing the idea and the bill died before receiving a floor vote.

Now it's back, under Sec. 3310.032

Sec. 3310.032. (A) A student is an "eligible student" for purposes of the expansion of the educational choice scholarship pilot program under this section if the student's resident district is not a school district in which the pilot project scholarship program is operating under sections 3313.974 to 3313.979 of the Revised Code and the student's family income is at or below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines, as defined in section 5101.46 of the Revised Code.

(B) In each fiscal year for which the general assembly appropriates funds for purposes of this section, the department of education shall pay scholarships to attend chartered nonpublic schools in accordance with section 3310.08 of the Revised Code. The number of scholarships awarded under this section shall not exceed the number that can be funded with appropriations made by the general assembly for this purpose.

(C) Scholarships under this section shall be awarded as follows:
(1) For the 2013-2014 school year, to eligible students who are entering kindergarten in that school year for the first time;
(2) For each subsequent school year, scholarships shall be awarded to eligible students in the next grade level above the highest grade level awarded in the preceding school year, in addition to the grade levels for which students received scholarships in the preceding school year.

(D) If the number of eligible students who apply for a scholarship under this section exceeds the scholarships available based on the appropriation for this section, the department shall award scholarships in the following order of priority:
(1) First, to eligible students who received scholarships under this section in the prior school year;
(2) Second, to eligible students with family incomes at or below one hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines. If the number of students described in division (D)(2) of this section who apply for a scholarship exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under division (D)(1) of this section, the department shall select students described in division
(D)(2) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.
(3) Third, to other eligible students who qualify under this section. If the number of students described in division (D)(3) of this section exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under divisions (D)(1) and (2) of this section, the department shall select students described in division (D)(3) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.

(E) A student who receives a scholarship under this section remains an eligible student and may continue to receive scholarships under this section in subsequent school years until the student completes grade twelve, so long as the student satisfies the conditions specified in divisions (E)(2) and (3) of section 3310.03 of the Revised Code.

Once a scholarship is awarded under this section, the student shall remain eligible for that scholarship for the current school year and subsequent school years even if the student's family income rises above the amount specified in division (A) of this section, provided the student remains enrolled in a chartered nonpublic school.

Eligibility for private school vouchers, in a few short paragraphs is opened up statewide, even if students in a school district have schools rated excellent to attend. When traditional public schools are suffering such draconian budget cuts, siphoning tax payer money to private schools cannot be a reasonable policy. This is, in short, a public education privatization provision.