In 2011, Kasich’s first budget cut $1.8 billion in state funding from Ohio’s schools. The new governor urged Ohioans to reject new school levies that might help replace some of the money he stole.
His latest budget maintains a large portion of those cuts for public schools while increasing payments to Ohio’s poorly performing charter schools. But has the Governor suddenly had a change of heart about school levies?
If you were at Monday’s bill signing ceremony for The Columbus Plan (HB167), you might have asked yourself that question. Kasich, appearing with Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, signed into law a measure that will require Columbus to put a new school levy on the ballot in November. “We need this to pass,” said Kasich.
In the two years since Kasich took office, districts around the state have placed $1.3 billion in new school levies on the ballot to help cover the large hole in funding left by his budget cuts. With the exception of the Cleveland Plan (which weakened the teachers union) and the subsequent levy needed to support it, Kasich has failed to support any attempt by schools to raise revenue in the face of massive funding cuts from the state.
So did Kasich suddenly have a change of heart about school levies?
Why else would he show up at a public school a few blocks from my house in Clintonville to sign a bill that would force the city to put a new school levy on the ballot?
The answer, of course, comes back to charter schools.
The 9.01 mil levy that is planned for this November’s ballot will not only increase property taxes by $315 for each $100k in home value, according to the Dispatch, but it will set aside 1 mil specifically for charter schools. That adds up to $8.5 million funneled away from the city’s public schools.
Keep in mind that charter schools already steal funding away from traditional public schools, with the per-pupil funding paid to charter schools taken directly away from the public school system the student would have attended. And the public school systems are still responsible for paying to bus kids to the charter school.
Charters pay their non-union teachers worse than public schools but still manage to spend more on administration than public schools.
But most importantly, Charters, on average, do not perform well, with 3 out of 4 receiving an F on this new state report card, and they are getting worse under Kasich even though funding is going up in his budget for some the poorest-performing charters (which just happen to be operated by big Republican campaign donors.)
The charter-supporting levy proposal came out of recommendations made by the Columbus Education Commission (CEC), a group appointed by Mayor Coleman and driven in large part by the business community.
As Miriam Bowers Abbot points out at ColumbusUnderground, the CEC was not representative of the families who count of the Columbus City Schools to educate their children: “many of its members live outside the school district; ninety-six percent of the members have exactly zero children in the city schools.”
So does Kasich suddenly love school levies? Does Kasich suddenly care about Columbus families, their wishes, and the education of their children?
Nope and Nope. The Columbus Plan gives the mayor the power to sponsor new charter schools and it requires Columbus to pursue a school levy that must be shared with charter schools. That is why Kasich likes it.
Unfortunately, many Columbus parents and students have a different opinion, as Monday’s protest demonstrated. And without the support of the community, any new school levy is going to have a difficult time getting passed in Columbus.