December 19, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
30°F
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Letter: Straight A or F?: The Perpetuation of a System of Winners, Losers

To Whom It May Concern,

The Lorain County Superintendents would like to congratulate the 24 Straight A Grant recipients on a job well done! However, we are writing to express our deep concerns regarding the perpetuation of a system of winners and losers in the state of Ohio.

It is our professional opinion that the state picked winners and losers with our state tax dollars rather than focusing on and diverting dollars to systemic improvements that could benefit all of the boys and girls in Ohio. It is clear that the chosen 24 districts are among the “winners,” while the Lorain County districts that submitted grant proposals, as well as the 569 other applicants throughout the state are the “losers.” Further, an analysis of the chosen few recipients provide great insight into a cadre of interesting networks that exist among the highest award “winners.”

It is also curious that ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — a for-profit charter company) received more than $2 million while their graduation rate has been 35% over the past five years. At the same time as the “chosen” few receive millions of tax dollars in state funding, the majority of Ohio students receive nothing.

As an example of how tax dollars can be used to make up for some of the $500 million in net funding cuts Ohio schools have received in the last two biennial budgets, Innovation Ohio states that the $400 million savings achieved by Medicaid expansion equates to the following:

  • $400 million exceeds the total amount spent by the state on economically disadvantaged aid ($369 million)
  • $400 million is over 6 times more than what the state spends on K-3 literacy ($64 million)
  • $400 million is more than what the state spends on the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, Gifted Education, Career Tech Education, Limited English Proficiency Education and half of the state’s six Special Education categories ($399.7 million).
  • $400 million exceeds the entire amount spent by the state on school transportation ($357 million).
  • Indeed, the only education line items on which the state spends more than $400 million are Charter Schools, the state’s basic aid amount, targeted assistance parity aid) and Special Education. Everything else gets less money.

(Innovation Ohio, 2013, The Impact of $400 Million on Ohio Schools)

Further, according to Innovation Ohio, the $400 million dollar investment would have the following impact on our public schools:

  • Double funding for Gifted, ELL, Career Tech and K-3 literacy funding.
  • Double funding for Transportation – while also nearly doubling funding for the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Double the amount of economically disadvantaged funding.
  • Pay for All-Day Kindergarten or universal preschool in our most economically distressed areas
  • Triple the funding for the most profoundly challenged special needs children in the state

(Innovation Ohio, 2013, The Impact of $400 Million on Ohio Schools)

We realize that the Straight A fund allocation was $250 million. However, rather than allocating the $250 million dollars to improve the overall system of education for ALL students in Ohio, we are once again forced to participate in a system of “winners” and “losers” that pits Ohio’s schools against each other. The utilization of public dollars to perpetuate a system of “winners” and “losers” is wrong on many levels. When will it end?

The following Lorain County Superintendents signed this letter:

Amherst Exempted Village Schools, Superintendent Steve Sayers; Avon Local Schools, Superintendent Michael Laub; Avon Lake City Schools, Superintendent Robert Scott; Clearview Local Schools, Superintendent Jerome Davis; Columbia Local Schools, Superintendent Graig Bansek; Elyria City Schools, Superintendent Paul Rigda; Firelands Local Schools, Superintendent Dr. Robert Hill; Keystone Local Schools, Superintendent Jay Arbaugh; North Ridgeville City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Jim Powell; Lorain City Schools, Superintendent Thomas Tucker; Lorain County ESC, Superintendent Greg Ring; Lorain County JVS, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Faircloth; Midview Local Schools, Superintendent Scott Goggin; Oberlin City Schools, Superintendent John Schroth; Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Will Folger; Vermilion Local Schools, Superintendent Phillip Pempin; Wellington Exempted Village Schools, Superintendent, John Nolan.