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.