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Time’s up to fund Ohio school districts fairly

DEAR EDITOR:

Republican control of Ohio state government has failed constituents in many areas, but nowhere more than in educating our kids.

Ohio Republicans have controlled the governorship and both houses of the state legislature for 19 of the 24 years since the Ohio school funding system was declared unconstitutional in 1997. The governorship and legislature had divided party control only five of those years, and there has been no time when Democrats were in full control since 1997.

In 2020, the Ohio House finally hammered out a bipartisan school funding plan that would bring the system in line with the constitution and passed the bill with only one dissenter in December. Yet, the Ohio Senate refused to take it up in favor of other priorities like the constitutionally questionable “Stand Your Ground” bill, which was opposed by Ohio police chiefs and mayors. Again, our kids took a back seat to the Republican party’s radical agenda.

As was noted in the Tribune Chronicle’s April 12 editorial calling on the Ohio legislature to act on fair school funding, “Ohio’s quality and efficiency of state government services when it comes to education was ranked 31st in the report. There are 30 other states to which families could move to ensure their kids get a better education for the money.”

For kids who are not in the wealthiest school districts, the ranking is even worse. A 2016 report showed the difference in test scores for students living in poverty in Ohio and their higher income classmates was almost the largest in the country. This placed Ohio 43rd in the nation in this measure, underlining the impact of lack of fairness in funding.

Our kids deserve better. Ohio deserves better. HB1, the fair school funding bill introduced again in February, has 64 sponsors / co-sponsors out of 99 including the Mahoning Valley’s representatives — Mike O’Brien, Michelle Lapore-Hagan and Al Cutrona. Notably missing is Mike Loychik.

HB1 has the support of educators, school boards and administrators. Let’s make sure Mike Loychik hears from us to support the bill and that state senators, Sandra O’Brien and Mike Rulli work to have the Senate act quickly to do the right thing for our kids and our communities.

The clock is ticking, and our kids are paying the price with their futures.

KAREN ZEHR

Warren

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