Deep Red Opposition to Kasich Funding Plan

As the 130th General assembly gets underway and begins its hearings on the Budget, questions from law makers and superintendents are already starting to heat up - and not from your typical quarters.

the most eye opening example is Superintendent of Franklin City Schools, in deep red Warren county who sent out a letter to residents calling John Kasich a liar, and asking for citizens to join him in removing him from office.

Governor John Kasich was untruthful last week, and in doing so, finally clarified that kids in poor school districts don't count.
As parents and friends of our district, I hope you will do two things: First, please join me in an active campaign to ensure that Gov. Kasich and any legislator who supports him are not re-elected. Second, I hope you will contact our state officials and urge them to ask Gov. Kasich to return to the drawing board on his school funding proposal.

Here's the full letter

Letter to Residents-Mr. Elam

Further difficult questions were posed to the Governor's education advisors during a House education committee hearing. Plunderbund captures on such exchange by Rep Smith (a Republican who won his district with over 65% of the vote in 2012)

During the hearings [video available here at 137:53] Smith asked a very moving question of Richard A. Ross, head the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education. He simply wanted to know what, if anything, this budget would do to help the severely underfunded schools in his district, schools that are laying off teachers and other vital staff and can’t afford to provide simple classes in art of music. Ross compared his schools to the fast growing Olentangy school district in Central Ohio.

“Olentangy schools have German 1,2 and 3, Jewelry 1, Ceramics 1, Sculpture 1, Stage Craft 1, Concert Orchestra,” said Smith. ”These are things that children of Appalachia don’t get exposed to.”

“I’m not asking for synchronized swimming or a swimming pool or anything extra. I’m not asking for violin lessons or cello lessons. What I want for is my kids is music. And art… just give them a basic education,” pleaded Smith.

State Rep Smith also tells the story of Symmes Valley School District where the Superintendent had to layoff his board secretary, transportation director and curriculum director and is now doing all of those jobs himself. Another school district in Smith’s area has lost 40 teachers and the rest have had no raises in four years.

Smith ends by asking Ross asking if there is any “special sauce” in this budget that will help superintendents just provided a basic education to the kids in his district?

the Governor's advisors told Rep Smith that perhaps students in his poor district could learn music online. Then they laughed. They may not be laughing much longer, as opposition to the second worst school funding plan (The worst being their previous plan that cut almost $2 billion from school budgets) is increasing and hardening even in red corners of the state.

Stephen Dyer notes that Governor Kasich ought to be worried. We agree.

Education News for 11-06-2012

State Education News

  • Finding new head of schools a challenge (Columbus Dispatch)
  • For the third time in less than five years, Ohio has a job opening for state superintendent of public instruction. Attracting good candidates could be a challenge…Read more...

  • Health care costs rising by $700K in some districts (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • All Butler County schools enrolled in a countywide health care consortium are facing a 12 percent hike in insurance premiums…Read more...

  • Common questions voters have on schools (WKYC)
  • Every election, voters ask why there are school levies on the ballot when the Ohio Lottery and casinos help fund the schools?…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Somber Canton BOE names Allison to replace late Chris Smith (Canton Repository)
  • A somber Board of Education met Monday evening to grieve its loss of Superintendent Chris Smith and name a successor to continue Smith’s vision for the City Schools…Read more...

  • Rossford schools to consult voters on upgrades (Toledo Blade)
  • The Rossford schools could come to the voters next November with a levy request, but this would happen only after a community survey…Read more...

  • Boxing Legend Pushes CMSD Levy Passage (WJW)
  • Legendary boxing promoter and Cleveland native Don King was in the city Monday, going door to door and pressing the flesh, pushing for the passage of the controversial school levy…Read more...


If you are a corporate education reformer, with the requisite pathological desire to want to fire educators, having educators stand in your way, blocking this deep seated desire is something that must be overcome.

We therefore see a secondary policy preference expressed by those wanting to privatize and corpratize public education. Policies designed to remove the collective voice of educators.

SB5 is a very clear example of this, and while publicly it was couched in "reform rhetoric", the governor has already expressed his desire to "break the back of organized labor in the schools". Scott walker in Wisconsin, Mitch Daniels in Indiana, and the legislature in New Hampshire have all tried similar approaches to removing educators voices.

But even with SB5 massively defeated, corporate education reformers like the Fordham Institute continue to push for such approaches

Teacher unions are among the most powerful political actors in America on a wide range of issues (just ask Terry Moe, Paul Peterson, or Mike Antonucci). It’s not a given that that should be so, however, or that union intervention in partisan elections is always (or even often) good for teachers as a whole. Rhee and other education reformers would do well to add paycheck protection to their toolkit of reforms to increase parent power over education policy – and protect the rights of teachers to spend their paychecks on political issues they believe in, not on the agenda of labor leaders.

We left the following comment on their post "this is a very ill informed post.

Teachers can opt out of funding unions and pay only fair share to cover the costs of professional services. Political advocacy of candidates is NOT paid out of any dues, but instead is paid by VOLUNTARY contributions by educators, typically into the Fund for Children and Education (FCPE).

One would hope that a "policy fellow" would at least avail themselves of some basic facts and understandings before espousing an opinion on a topic they clearly have no understanding of.

But the folks at Fordham aren't the only ones who would like to see educators slip quietly into the background. The Columbus Dispatch often published opinion pieces that echo these desires, and did, publishing a piece by Pat Smith, titled "Expert panel could revamp education in Ohio"

An expert panel in Ohio could identify similar savings and direct them where they’d do the most good. Such a panel ought to include certified public accountants, economists, futurists and technologists and perhaps be chaired by Ohio’s state auditor.

We're not sure what a "futurist" is, but we are sure educators are not on that list, indeed educators get a special mention - "It should welcome input, but not control, from educators..."

We asked Ms. Smith "Curious why you do not include any teachers/educators in your list of people who would serve on your proposed expert panel?". She was kind enough to respond, and her response included this

No one is more supportive of teachers than I am. I come from a family of teachers: mother-in-law, aunts, sister-in-law, my daughter and, of course, my own experience - four different systems under five different principals. But, I think the kind of expertise we need to improve the productivity of the entire state system has to come from those with different sets of skills: technology gurus, numbers crunchers, data experts, demographers, futurists, etc. Yes, as I said, they need to have input from educators (the editor edited out the adjective "strong" before "input.") But, you know as well as I do, much of the decision making in education circles revolves around ideology and not about what really works. Also, the educators tend to wear down others on panels. My worry is that there is only a finite amount of resources that is going to go into education and that we must make the very best use of those resources and that educators don't know or agree how to do that. For example: should we fund early education or lower class size? Yes, a surgeon has the expertise to operate, but not to run the hospital where he performs the surgery.

We're not sure what's more insulting, the mistaken belief that educators have no expertise in these matters, or that they constant pointing out of ill-conceived ideas wears the purveyors of those ideas down. But at least in this exchange we can see why educators simply must be silenced.

According to ODE statistics, Ohio teachers have an average of 15.08 years experience, giving them a combined 1,560,379 total years of experience. Each day they add almost a million hours of experience to this massive total. Who else in the state has this amount, depth, and level of expertise in public education?

Anyone who doesn't recognize that educators have earned a central role in education policy reform isn't serious about reforming education, they are instead more interested in partisan politics.

Are radical school funding changes ahead?

We will have to wait to see the actual details, but if this report from NPR StateImpact is any guide, the Governor's proposed school funding formula is going to look a lot more like a public school defunding effort.

A new school-funding model being developed by Governor John Kasich’s administration could allow local property tax dollars to follow students to charter schools or be used to fund vouchers for private-school tuition. Right now, only state tax money can do that.
other key changes under serious consideration:

  • Changing how the state calculates the amount of money local school districts must raise. Currently, this calculation is based on property values. The new funding model could take into account student poverty levels, local income levels and other factors;
  • Creating financial incentives for school districts to shift some instruction online; and
  • Simplifying the way that school districts collect taxes to make it more understandable to taxpayers.

Other possible changes include providing increased funding to districts with high-performing schools and structuring funding to encourage regional collaboration in areas like transportation, Mattei Smith said. While a separate study of school district consolidation is underway, consolidation is not part of discussions on a new school funding model, Mattei Smith said.

The Board of Education has expressed a strong desire for significant public input, which is to be applauded, because these proposals, albeit with limited detail, appear quite radical.

Ohio School Funding

We attended a meeting at the State Library of Ohio hosted by Barbara Mattei-Smith, the Governor's Assistant Policy Director for Education. The topic for discussion was the development of a new Ohio school funding formula to get us past the current "make-it-up-as-you-go-along" bridge formula.

This time, with adequate notice, lots of teachers filled the room to almost standing capacity.

funding meeting

MS. Mattei-Smith laid out 3 principals being worked from

  • Resources need to be student centered, creating an appropriate learning environment
  • Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and a funding model has to address that
  • There are a number of delivery systems to consider such as charters, online, traditional schools, joint vocational etc

Given how Ohio's education system has been deemed unconstitutional numerous times, it is perhaps a little surprising not to see a constitutional funding formula being the number one guiding principal.

It is further surprising that the evidenced based model is being discarded, with scant solid reason for doing so. While some issues regarding the EBM were alluded to by Ms. Mattei-Smith, none seemed to stretch to the conclusion it should be scrapped, rather than modified and given time to work. Haim Ginott - "Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task." As one teacher noted, it's like a team getting a new coach, and along with that change, a new playbook, schedules, uniforms and philosophy, for no other reason than there's a new coach.

Indeed, while it took a protracted amount of time and consultation to develop and roll out the EBM, the current plan for a funding formula is on a much faster track, with far less consultation. We will have to wait and see what the details are, but the proposed speed and method of development should cause concern.

Further concern should be given to reports that the Governor is considering mechanisms for consolidation of school districts. An awful lot of education policy is being churned right now, from SB5 to teacher evaluations, merit pay, and school funding with very little of it being given time for deliberative thought, consideration and consultation. As a Columbus teacher mentioned, it has all the hallmarks of blind men describing an elephant.

Right now we can only hope that the creature being created by the administration isn't some hybrid abomination, but hope isn't too reassuring.

Time for Governor Kasich to listen

We became aware of the Governor's office standing up some central Ohio teachers yesterday, for what was supposed to be a meeting to discuss new school funding formulas.

Columbus teachers who were present have a great write up of the incident. More troubling that some meeting mix-up however is the ongoing pattern of trying to avoid real meaningful teacher input

While the anatomy of the new school funding formula has yet to be determined, the governor’s spokesperson has gone on record saying the new model will be contain the “over-arching principal of driving more money into the classroom.” Mattei-Smith scheduled five meetings over a two-week period inviting teachers, superintendents and principals, but failed to include teacher-leaders from the Ohio Education Association or the Ohio Federation of Teachers until much later in the process.

This meeting information was initially only shared with administrative groups and not with the teacher organizations (OEA and OFT). Information about these series of meetings was only received after “prodding” Barbara Mattei-Smith for it.

What is currently passing for education policy and its development is a shambles. There simply cannot be any meaningful progress without serious consultation with teaching professionals. Attempts to craft policy without broad consultation is going to lead to terrible policy being made that is harmful to public education in Ohio, and the students who are served by it.

It's time for the Governor to personally meet with teachers associations and spend some time listening to professionals who are on the front lines of delivering quality public education every day. He then needs to take what he hears seriously.