Teachers Digging Into Own Pockets to tune of $1.3 billion


Roughly half the amount that the nation's public school teachers are spending on educational products is being covered with their own money, a new nationwide survey shows.

All told, teachers spent about $3.2 billion on various types of supplies and materials during the 2012-13 academic year, according to the survey, released recently by the National School Supply and Equipment Association. Half that total amount, $1.6 billion, came out of educators' own pockets.

The per-teacher breakdown is as follows: The average educator forked out about $198 of their own money on instructional materials, $149 on school supplies, and $139 on other classroom materials, for a total of $485 last academic year, according to the survey.

In total, nearly all teachers—99.5 percent—reported digging into their own pockets to cover the costs on classroom supplies or materials, according to the association. The portion of teachers doing so appears to have risen over time.

The report, "The 2010 NSSEA Retail Market Awareness Study," was based on a survey of 308 K-12 teachers, conducted by Perry Research Professionals.

Kasich escalates public ed defunding

Ohioans would see income taxes fall, but would pay for them through higher sales and property taxes in the final Republican proposal

That's how the Cincinnati Enquirer opens its report on the massive last minute tax plan the Ohio GOP are planning to dump on the state, after months of internal disagreements.

Of particular concern to those who support public education, the budget conference committee decided not to restore the historic school funding cuts they made in the previous budget, but instead build upon it. Here was their starting point

FY12 (2011-2012 school year), which was the first year under Kasich's budget, saw a total of $7.52 billion in total state revenues. That's an 8% cut in total state revenue -- easily the largest cut since ODE started keeping these total state revenue figures in 1995.

And the bad news for districts is that FY12 won't represent the entire state divestment from education during Kasich's first budget. That's because the governor's budget phased down the Tangible Personal Property and Killowatt Hour tax reimbursement payments over two years. So the cut will be likely continued in FY13, pushing the total revenue figure down even lower.

As it stands, that $7.52 billion is the lowest amount provided by the state since the 2007-2008 school year.

Where they have ended up is even worse. In order to pay for their income tax cut, they have decided to eliminate the 12.5% property tax rollback.

The elimination of the property tax rollback will make future school levies harder to pass and more expensive, further shifting the burden from the state to local communities already struggling to support the needs of their students.

Eliminating the 12.5 percent property tax rollback for new taxes could make school levies harder to sell to voters. For example, without the rollback, last year's 15-mill Cleveland school levy would have cost $263 a year instead of $230 for the owner of a $50,000 home, and $525 a year instead of $459 for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The Governor and his legislative allies continue to shift the burden from millionaires to working people and their communities. We're going backwards at a time when the state can afford to move forward.

A minority budget

One thing is clear now the language of the Governor's budget bill (HB59) is available. No matter how you look at it, it is a minority budget.

First and most obviously the bill will be crafted by the Republican dominated legislature, with little input or amendment from the Democrats. This will be despite the fact that voters just a few short months ago voted for Democrats in far larger numbers than Republicans. The Republican gerrymandering of the state legislature will give Republican members a very false sense of voter support.

That false sense of support is already evident in recent polling of the Governor's budget.

Among the poll’s key findings are:

  • 60% of Ohioans say public schools need more state funding to improve
  • 59% say Ohio is doing too little to improve the quality of public education
  • 62% say helping localities fund schools, fire and police is more important to them than reducing the state income tax
  • 62% favor raising Ohio’s severance tax on oil and natural gas to the Texas rate —and using the money to offset state budget cuts to local governments

It's clear then, that a party that received minority voter support only has minority support for its budget plans.

Finally, the reason these facts come into stark relief is because of the underlying policies - policies that enhance the welfare and benefit of a minority of Ohioans over the those of the majority.

On school funding:

  • The budget elevates private school vouchers and failing charter schools over traditional public schools, despite 90% of Ohio's students attending traditional public schools.
  • 382 of 612 school districts see no funding increase from the previous budgets baseline, which cut $1.8 billion - causing basic state aid to fall from $5,723 to a paltry $5,000.
  • Despite the Governor's promise that "the rich will get less and the poor will get more", his funding plan, where it does provide modest increases, does the exact opposite.
  • The Governor goes further, threatening that if reelected his next budget would eliminate $880 million in funding guarantees that some of the poorest school districts currently receive.

These are budget decisions that are not being forced on the Governor or his legislative allies, but are instead choices being made. These choices are being made in order to further support the minority over the majority in the form of massive tax breaks.

His proposed income tax cuts has the following effect

Plainly then, the Governor's budget prioritizes income tax cuts for the wealthy. This income tax reduction will equate to approximately $4.3 billion less in revenue to the state, resulting in less revenue to support key programs like education. Since May 2011, budget cuts to public schools have forced local districts to propose about $1.1 billion in new levies.

the legislature still has a lot of time to listen to the majority of Ohioans who want a more balanced approach to the budget than the minority one being proposed. Such balance would include restoration of funding to schools and communities, not cuts to these vital services that the majority rely upon. These investments will make our state stronger and more prosperous, and have a far greater long term positive impact than many of the minority provisions being proposed.

You can contact the Governor and ask that he take a more balanced approach that benefits everyone, not just the few.
Contact the Governor, here
Find and contact your legislator, here

Budget announcement analysis

Yesterday, is a carefully orchestrated rollout, the Governor revealed elements of his school funding plan. He could have titled it "Under-investment is our new normal in school funding".

His plan involves a new mechanism for allocating state dollars to public schools, but before we get to that, let's take a look at the actual funding levels he is proposing.

The 2011 school GRF budget allocated $6.3 billion for fiscal year 2012, and $6.4 billion for fiscal year 2013. This produced the largest school funding cuts in state history which, according to an Innovation Ohio study, has led to voters having to consider $1.1 billion in new property and income taxes for schools. Voters passed just over 40% of that amount, approving school levies equal to $487 million in new taxes. With that as a backdrop, supporters of public schools were hoping for significant restoration of that funding and alleviation of local property tax burdens. So what did the Governor unveil?

Dick Ross and Barbara Mattei-Smith, two of Kasich's main education advisers, said the long-promised plan calls for $6.2 billion in basic state aid for the 2013-14 school year, [...] and $6.4 billion for 2014-15

At best that appears to be a status-quo under-investment of Ohio's public schools. However, during the presentation the Governor and his aides all expressed the following

If approved by the Ohio General Assembly, school districts would not experience any drop in funding in the next two years (July 1 to June 2015). However, Ross said, that level of funding would not be sustainable and would have to eventually decline.

The Governor reiterated that funding guarantees would be eliminated after this budget and districts should expect more cuts. To a system that has already suffered $1.8 billion in cuts that ought to be chilling. To avoid some of the rollout day chills, the Governor did not have district level funding numbers available - they should be available later next week.

Along with this basic GRF funding the Governor did announce a number of new programs and program expansions

Additional items, including $300 million for grants to encourage innovation in districts, bump the total cost of the plan to $7.4 billion for 2013-14 and $7.7 billion for 2014-15.

Much of this money is one-time, requires grant applications to be approved, or is ear-marked for specific purposes, such as

  • Funding of $190 million for special needs students, plus $45 per pupil in every school to fund gifted students;
  • Additional support of $207 million for 3- and 4-year-olds with disabilities;
  • New funding of $185 million for districts with the least amount of access to public preschool programs.

While this is welcomed, there is also a significant expansion of money going to charter schools and vouchers.


Included in the proposal are several provisions that dramatically increase the availability for school vouchers in the state, including a statewide income-based scholarship for families earning less than 200% of federal poverty (roughly $46,000 for a family of four) and a literacy-based scholarship for students who consistently fail the state's third grade reading test. A full 1.8 million students would qualify for the new plan's income requirements

The new vouchers would give about $4,250 a year toward private-school tuition to any kindergartener in the first year and first graders in the second year. The extra cost would be about $8.5 million in the first year, and $17 million the second year.

Charter Expansion

While new charter school accountability mechanisms were missing from the Governors proposals, extra money for them was not. For-profit charter schools will see an increase in state funding with those schools receiving the same dollar amount per student as their public counterparts, along with $100 more per student to help pay for facilities.

The $100 per student facilities payment will amount to around $13 million dollars. The "Money follows the child" provision will cause significant hardship to poorer districts that can least afford to lose state aid to low performing charter schools, which brings us to the new formula.

The Funding Mechanism

The Governor has moved away from trying to determine the cost of a quality education and funding it at that level to instead considering a communities ability to pay and having the state attempt to equalize that across school districts. The Plain Dealer describes is like this

Mattei-Smith said this plan tries to reduce the difference through a complicated formula to provide aid to districts with lower property values in two stages. The first takes the 20 mills of property taxes that most every district in Ohio charges at a minimum. Though Mattei-Smith said only 24 districts in Ohio have $250,000 of property value per student -- an amount that raises $5,000 per student with the 20 mills -- the plan will raise every district to that amount.

The state will cover the gap between the $5,000 figure and what 20 mills raises per student in that district. Because charter schools can't use property taxes, the state will cover the entire $5,000 as their base funding.

The second phase aims to equalize residents' ability to pay property taxes in addition to the 20 mills. Districts typically have about 35 mills billed to residents, but Kasich's staff said many residents don't have the income to afford those added taxes.

The plan ranks districts in wealth based half on property vales and half on household income, then separates the bottom 80 percent from the top 20 percent. The top 20 percent will receive no additional state aid.

The plan aims to boost the remaining 80 percent of districts, with those at the top getting state aid equivalent to charging another 5 mills in taxes. The lowest ranked districts will receive state aid up to the equivalent of as much as 15 mills.

This extra money will "follow the student" -- to use a phrase that Kasich and his staff used in the weeks leading up to Thursday's announcement -- as they go to charter schools. That means that a charter school, whether it be in a building or online, will receive more money for students from a poor district like Cleveland than it would from a richer one like Beachwood or Westlake.

The non-partisan, highly respected KnowledgeWorks released this statement, which captures the essence well.

Ohio Governor John Kasich’s proposal for a new school funding formula for primary and secondary public education includes many good ideas to help propel Ohio’s public education system forward but fails to ensure all students have adequate resources to succeed, Ohio Education Matters said today.

While more details are needed to fully assess the plan, which was released today in a Columbus briefing, the initial reaction is that the school funding plan does nothing to assure that students have enough resources to meet higher standards and expectations, said Andrew Benson, Executive Director of Ohio Education Matters, a division of KnowledgeWorks.

There appears to be many devils hiding in the not too clear details, but what is clear is that under funding Ohio's students education is now the new normal.

Here's the Presentation the Governor gave

2013 Ohio Gov. School Funding Plan Presentation by

A pre-budget baseline

In advance of the Governor releasing his budget, Policy Matters Ohio has produced a report looking at the current budget situation and making recommendations in numerous policy areas, including education.

  • Restore cuts that have caused local school districts to cut staff and course offerings, increase class sizes, and implement pay-to-play for extracurricular activities;
  • Institute a fair, adequate and equitable funding formula for schools;
  • Apply high standards to charter schools, keeping ineffective schools from opening and closing those that fail their students. Make sure charters become part of a stronger K-12 education system in Ohio, not a means to dismantle it;
  • Fund higher education sufficiently to make tuition at Ohio’s colleges and universities more similar to that in other states;
  • Establish a long-term strategy to restore need-based aid.

Their entire education section of the report is worth a read, but we wanted to pull out 2 sections from that.

Funding drops over decade

Figure 3 shows that, adjusted for inflation, annual state funding for primary and secondary education in Ohio has dropped more than a billion dollars over a 10-year period, to less than $8.7 billion in FY13 from $9.7 billion in FY04, in 2012 dollars. As noted, Figure 3 does not include federal stimulus funding.

Those are serious declines in education investment that should be kept in mind.

Privatization directs money away from districts

Even as K-12 education – districts, charters, and voucher programs – has gotten less funding through the state budget, the state continued to expand privatization, directing increasing amounts of money away from school districts toward privately operated charters and voucher schools. Some increasing funding is due to rising enrollment in charters, but as Table 5 shows, year-to-year increases in the deduction of funds from school districts have either outstripped or stayed roughly on track with enrollment increases. Over the 10-year period beginning in FY 2003, charter school enrollment has increased 262 percent, while funding for charters has increased more than 500 percent over the same period.

Policy makers have increased voucher spending as well. HB 153, the budget bill signed in 2011, created a new voucher worth up to $20,000 that families of special needs children can use at state-approved private providers beginning this school year.[23] The budget bill also increased the voucher amount for the Cleveland program, to a maximum of $5,000 for high school and $4,250 for grades K-8, from $3,450 for all grades.[24] HB 153 expanded the number of vouchers available through the statewide EdChoice program to 60,000, although FY 2013 enrollment remains much lower at about 15,968.[25] Ohio’s autism voucher program, which provides up to $20,000 a year to use with private providers, began in FY 2004 and has been used by more than 2,000 families.[26]

Together, the amount of money directed to charter schools and voucher programs in Ohio is approaching $1 billion a year deducted from school district funds. In FY 2011, for example, charter schools saw about $720 million and voucher programs got a total of more than $100 million.[27] The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) reports that in FY 2012, $774 million was allocated to charter schools and at least $86 million for vouchers.[28] This reflects a growth of about 5 percent in privatized school funding in a year that overall funding plunged. ODE figures show at least $950 million will be spent on charters and vouchers in Ohio in FY 2013.[29]

The Governor is also expected to expand privatization efforts further.

Romney’s plan would cut education, drastically

During the last Presidential debate, Mitt Romney surprised a lot of watchers by claiming, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding.”

But according to his own plan, that claim doesn't hold water, as Innovation Ohio point out, after looking at his plan

But that’s exactly what his plan proposes. From “The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs”:

Reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to 20 percent – its pre-crisis average – by 2016.

Even while it cuts total spending to 20 percent of the nation’s economy, compared to 23 percent today, the plan also promises to increase the rate of growth in GDP, but also increases spending on defense and holds Social Security and Medicare harmless. To make the numbers work, Romney has admitted it will require nearly $500 billion in annual cuts by 2016.

That kind of money is not going to come exclusively from eliminating Big Bird.

Innovation Ohio and the Center for American Progress have calculated that the plan will result in across-the-board cuts to remaining federal programs equal to 11 percent in 2013, and averaging 39 percent a year over the next decade.

What does that mean for education?

According to the Ohio Department of Education, in 2011, Ohio school districts received $1.7 billion in federal education funding.

In 2013, this means Ohio schools would be cut by $189 million. Over the decade, schools would see $669 million less, each year, under the Romney plan.

We know candidates often try to put their plans in the best possible light, but Romney’s claim he won’t cut education doesn’t hold up.