School Funding

What is the result of Ohio’s unconstitutional school funding system?

Dena Sico is Co-Chair of the Parent Organizing Committee of the All in For Ohio Kids Campaign and a member of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.

What does it say to our community, indeed our nation, that the 2022 school year was disrupted by such basic things as air conditioning?

The state’s largest school district, Columbus City Schools, recently concluded a new collective agreement with the Columbus Education Association allowing children and teachers to return to school.

While the contract dispute has been resolvedthe underlying problem of the inability to fully (and equitably) fund public schools remains.

Not just for Ohio, but for the nation.

Dena Sico is Co-Chair of the Parent Organizing Committee of the All in For Ohio Kids Campaign and a member of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.

I offer this observation not from a perch of distance and comfort, but as the mother of a child in Columbus schools. I must also acknowledge that I have the privilege of using my voice in this way when many families in our district do not.

Our point of view:The contract did not fix the Columbus schools. Mice, cockroaches, dated classes among concerns

For years, Ohio’s school funding formula has been unfair and unfair. For instance, “In 1997, in DeRolph v. State, the Ohio Supreme Court declared the state’s school funding system unconstitutional, specifically citing four major flaws in the system, including insufficient state funding for school facilities and a flawed school funding formula . The Court wrote, “”A system without basic instructional equipment and supplies can hardly constitute a complete and effective system of common schools throughout the State, as required by our Constitution. “”

After: 20 years after the DeRolph decision, some school districts won, others lost

Last year, a coalition of teachers, parents, unions and concerned grassroots groups came together to win the Fair Trade Schools Funding Planfixation Ohio’s Unconstitutional Formula therefore all student education is funded.

While we finally got a constitutional formula in the 2021 state budget season, it was a temporary solution, which means that we will have to fight every two years to finance our schools.

Moving forward, we must make the Fair Schools Funding Plan permanent because no matter where we live or how much money we have, each of our children should get the education they deserve.

No exceptions.

But Ohio, like many other states, has relied on formulas that don’t consistently and properly fund our children’s future. In systems that are too dependent on property taxes, students from lower-income communities may lack the amenities and resources available to students from higher-income communities. In a properly functioning democracy, students would have access to quality, free and accessible education.

Full stop.

A deeper dive:Ohio lawmakers send budget with tax cuts and new school funding formula to Governor DeWine’s office

Without fully funding every student in every school district in Ohio, our children will forever be vulnerable to teacher shortages, overwhelming classroom sizes, crumbling infrastructure (including dilapidated buildings and the lack of air conditioning) and an embarrassing lack of basic resources. The Columbus strike — while critical — was a symptom of a much larger problem that elected officials have yet to grapple with.

OpinionOhio must stop funding school bureaucracy and put kids first

One of the reasons educators went on strike was that some buildings in the area lacks air conditioning.

What does it say about our community, indeed our nation, that the 2022 school year was disrupted because of something as basic as air conditioning? At a time of heightened climate emergencies brought on by the climate crisis, our nation has experienced record-breaking heat waves, including here in central Ohio. Young people should not be asked to go to school in buildings without air conditioning. It’s not a matter of luxury, but a matter of safety because the heat can create unique medical emergencies like asthma attacks. Further away, studies have shown students exposed to high levels of heat in the classroom can impact their ability to learn.

Sure, the strike is over, but the broader call for funding Ohio’s children persists. Parents, caregivers and community members want a fully funded and equitably funded education for all children, no matter their age, what they look like or what part of town they come from.

Policy makers at the state and federal levels must also want it.

Unfortunately, gerrymandered legislative districts have made it increasingly difficult for Ohioans to elect who they want to represent their communities. But we need education champions who will not waver until all children have what they need to learn. If the Ohio government cannot or will not invest in education, the federal government must.

And while policy makers have work to do, parents and concerned community members must pledge to vote in every election cycle. We don’t just vote for candidates; we vote for our children and their future. They deserve our active and constant participation.

Dena Sico is Co-Chair of the Parent Organizing Committee of the All in For Ohio Kids Campaign and a member of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.