Friday, June 04, 2010

GUEST COLUMN: "Majority Leadership Failed Ohio’s Schools, Let Partisanship Mar Legislative Debate" by Mike Wilson and Mike Robison

Guest Column:
The academic success of Ohio’s students from kindergarten through college is essential to the overall viability of our state. From public to parochial schools, home schools to charter schools, alternative education options help each child reach his or her full potential. Unfortunately, Ohio’s parochial schools fell victim to the devastating budget cuts and lost a disproportionate amount of funding compared to their public counterparts.

Since the 1980s, parochial school funding has been closely linked with public school funding, which allowed both institutions to successfully co-exist. However, by voting to slash parochial school funding by nearly $60 million over the next two years—compared with public school cuts of approximately $30 million—Reps. Connie Pillich and Denise Driehaus have put many of Ohio’s nearly 250,000 private school students in jeopardy.
When the House Republicans submitted an amendment to Senate Bill 181 that would restore funding to the parochial schools, the House majority had an opportunity to fix this budget injustice. The amendment would have restored vital funding by drawing from the bloated bureaucracy of the Ohio Department of Education, so the schools would have benefitted from these dollars—not the bureaucrats at the top of the pyramid. This would have alleviated some of the pressure that many schools are feeling at a time when they need this funding the most.
Instead of capitalizing on this common-sense proposal, Reps. Pillich and Driehaus, as well as their majority colleagues, not only ignored the amendment but voted to close all debate on SB 181, effectively silencing any dissent. To deny Ohioans their right to speak through their elected representatives and forsake the traditions of the sacred institution is not what Ohio’s leaders were sent to Columbus to do. They have essentially thrown our local schools under the bus just to secure a politically favorable position for the November election.
An investment in a quality education for our children is an investment in our future. As such, it is the responsibility of today’s leaders to provide the leaders of tomorrow with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. Parents who choose to send their children to parochial schools save Ohio’s taxpayers billions of dollars by shouldering education costs by themselves. Through property taxes, they provide vital revenue for the public schools that their own children will not benefit from, because they understand the necessity to provide fair, adequate funding for all schools. For this reason, it is in the best interest of the state to maintain a competitive parochial school system, which is just one of the many issues that Reps. Pillich and Driehaus have neglected this General Assembly.
We hope that in the coming months, our representatives in the Statehouse will finally put partisanship aside and become leaders—not politicians—for the sake of Ohio’s schools.