From William Phillis, Ohio E & A
"The public common school," Horace Mann said, "is the Greatest Discovery made by man." It constitutes a social compact established for the benefit of all the children of all the people, community by community, across Ohio and across America. It has been the primary force for the common good in America.
Although a state system in Ohio, required to be thorough and efficient by constitutional decree, it is operated at the community level by elected boards of education-the fourth branch of government. In spite of inadequate levels of state funding through the decades, the public common school in Ohio and throughout the nation has nurtured this country to which millions and millions in every generation have migrated.
The public common school, typically, on a modest and constrained budget, has attempted to meet the individual needs of students. Programs for vocational/technical training, programs for those with disabilities and special needs, have been a part of the common school fabric. Typically, education options have been limited by the fiscal resources available to school districts.
In the past two decades, the political will to maintain and strengthen the public common school, and thus the social compact, the common good, has dwindled in a frenzied untested "quick fix" strategy that is fueled by many who want to take public money to the altar of the god of school choice.
The public common school system, due to the transfer of resources from the system to private choices, is less able to provide for choice; hence, students within the public common school system are being denied choices due to choice expansion outside the system.
The school funding measures in HB 59 (school funding level and non-formula school funding formula) are detrimental to most school districts while favoring the school choice movement. The state has the constitutional responsibility to maintain and nurture the common school system, not give it away.
The 130th General Assembly should put a moratorium on the expansion of school choice and establish a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research committee to study the current choice program.