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Your Side: Our Readers Take Over

Not surprised by state report cards and county’s schools

To the editor:

Dear Ohio taxpayers, voters and elected officials,

A recent Sunday headline featured the new Ohio report cards, tougher standards for grading public schools, and amazingly poor performance by our county schools! Should we be alarmed? Of course not. For the past 20 years the Ohio Department of Education has been “proving “ to us that our public schools are mediocre.

In this particular new round of testing, the schools apparently did better than expected, so it was easy to just change the grading scale. Is that fair? Of course not, but the state doesn’t care about fairness. The state is willing to do whatever it takes to make our schools look bad.

Our students, teachers, and administrators have been at the mercy of ever changing testing/rating systems/new curriculums/evaluations for the past 20 years. According to state officials it is an effort to make schools and teachers accountable and to improve education for our students. That concept is HOGWASH! The real reason is to make our schools look bad!

In fact many of us have been brainwashed into thinking that are schools are failing! PERHAPS good has come from some of these mandates, but for the most part, they have reduced instructional time. Consider the many early dismissals, late starts, teacher in-service, hours of test prep and test taking. Many times the tests do nothing to improve instruction for our children. They are simply a way to rate schools or teachers. Add to that waste are the elaborate, time consuming , and meaningless teacher evaluations. And just when the schools are jumping through the hoops in a proper manner, the state changes the system, test, curriculum, etc. After all it wouldn’t do to have most of our schools receiving “A” ratings and awards for excellence.

We, the taxpayers of Ohio, need to send a loud and clear message to our elected officials. It is time to speak up before we see the end of public education. Our points should be:

1. Stop the propaganda that our schools are failing! Our schools are doing a great job! No matter what ridiculous demands are thrown at our public schools, they meet the challenge. Our schools do a great job of educating everyone who is willing to be educated. Our schools do everything possible to educate EVERYONE, regardless of their health, physical or mental ability, handicap, or willingness to be educated. Our public schools MUST DO SO REGARDLESS OF THE EXPENSE.

Not only do our schools educate, they feed, counsel, clothe, nurse and provide all sorts of social services that reach far beyond academics. Although respect for teaching and teachers has dwindled in recent years due to undeserved bad press, the demands and expectations placed on educators have skyrocketed.

The public schools that ARE failing are those where poverty and disregard for education are the norm. This is a societal issue not a school issue. In fact, the best predictor of school success is zip code.

2. Do as the Ohio Supreme Court ruled. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled FOUR TIMES that our system of funding education was unconstitutional, yet nothing has changed. What has become of the “checks and balances” of our democratic system? How can our governors and the many past and current legislators IGNORE these rulings? They are in contempt of court. An ordinary citizen of this state must follow the ruling of the courts, or face fines, imprisonment, etc. yet our elected officials face no consequences.

In the meantime, the unconstitutional reliance on local monies have put our local schools in jeopardy. Local schools are lucky to get renewals passed let alone new funds. This is not because voters don’t care about education, or believe that their school is inferior, it is simply because voters cannot afford MORE taxes! (I am old enough to remember voting for a state income tax that was supposed to be primarily to fund schools. Ditto for the state lottery. ) Most of our schools have cut teachers, cut programs, cut course offerings, cut support staff, cut raises, cut benefits, increased class sizes, decreased busing and have been very creative and responsible about maintaining the best educational experience possible for their students. Many are at a breaking point. Our elected officials need to finally fix the way our schools are funded!

3. Stop giving our state income tax money and LOCAL property tax money to charter, voucher, and alternative schools! While a fraction of these schools are legitimate, most are FOR-PROFIT schools and MOST are performing dismally. These experimental schools were supposed to challenge our public schools to improve and to provide our students and parents with a choice. The truth is that MOST perform far below any public school! Even worse, they do not have to account for what they do with OUR tax money!

Our state and local tax dollars are being taken from our schools and given to for-profit schools! This is a misuse of our money! I voted to support United Local Schools, not billionaires operating online schools (that do not even require participation) or Turkish religious zealots operating over a hundred schools in this country. Why must I foot the bill to pay for visas for Turkish men to teach here in the US?

“Pro-choice” when used by an elected official in reference to schools is a euphemism for PRO PROFIT. Our governor and legislators turn a blind eye to mismanagement, fraud, and corruption because many of them are accepting campaign donations , free travel, perks and favors from charter school management. Mismanagement of funds is rare in our public schools but rampant in for profit schools!

4. Return to an all elected State School Board which selects the Ohio Department of Education

The Ohio Board of Education is in shambles. It should be populated with individuals who are elected by the public rather that with individuals who have been appointed by the governor and will vote based on political pressure. The Ohio board of Education should NOT be a political entity

To the public: Wake up and speak up. Demand accountability from your Ohio elected officials and from for-profit schools

To our elected officials: Shame on you! You are supposed to uphold our constitution and represent our citizens, including our children! You are misusing OUR money and cheating OUR students!

Joan M. Gibson,

Salem

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