Start with Students, Not Systems
We have a well-funded system of public education in Ohio. Although there is quite a lot of debate about how best to pay for that system, the average funding level per student is $13,805 in public schools in 2020.
We work hard to pay our taxes to state and local government authorities to make this possible.
Our tax dollars are meant for the education of the students in our communities, whether they are our children or our neighbors.
However, the sense of entitlement seen in some public officials can be very disconcerting.
Our first principle is that as Ohioans, we are not funding a system with our tax dollars for administrators to develop and use as they please. Rather, we are funding education for our students.
One such pathway to education of several includes the government-established, board-administered public schools.
We know this because state funding follows students (although imperfectly), since state tax dollars are directed to schools based upon a number of criteria, the first of which is student enrollment.
In Ohio, our focus and our funding is for students.
It is a case of “Both-And”, not “Either-Or”
Other pathways to education for students in our community include homeschooling, religious schools and church-established schools, non-religious private schools, and more.
We as Ohioans have the right to provide parents and students with funding, scholarships, and support for these diverse pathways to education.
Our second principle is that Ohioans support both government-run schools and other pathways to education, and there is no moral, constitutional, or legal reason why we cannot support a broad set of choices for parents and families.
Our public school system includes government-run, public charter schools, private-run schools, parochial schools, and much more. This diverse scope satisfies the requirements of the Ohio Constitution that our state government establish a system of public schools.
Any student should be able to go to any public school
In the best of cases, no single school is perfect for all students. Some schools have great college-prep courses, others have strong arts programs, some are recognized for their sports, and others are known for amazing vocational and technical education.
If for no other reason, parents deserve to be empowered to have their children attend any school they choose, no matter where they live.
In the worst of cases, some schools are failing our children. Some students are trapped because of educational red-lining: a process of socio-economic discrimination by which systems force kids who cannot afford any alternatives to remain in schools that lack facilities, resources, or safety.
All schools must be held accountable by parents
No one cares more about the success of students more than their parents. Our government-run public schools must have every system of transparency and accountability available to parents so that they can make informed decisions about school board elections, tax levies, and student enrollment.
Non-government-run schools already have the ultimate in parental accountability: if parents choose not to send their children to a given school, then the school will fail and close.
History: Our Democracy was NOT born in a Public School
It turns out that in the United States, the government-run public school system became the educator of the majority of children in the 20th century. The ancient Greeks – who are commonly recognized as creating democracy –had academies organized apart from their government. The great philosophers of democratic ideals: Cliesthenes, Ephialtes, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and Edmund Burke for example, did not attend government-run public schools. The authors of American Democracy like de Tocqueville, Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington for example, were all educated in Catholic and parochial schools, non-governmental institutions, classical academies, and with private tutors in their homes.
About one hundred years ago, several states made it illegal for parents to send their kids to anything but a government-run public school. The Smith-Towner bill was created to make Catholic and Christian schools illegal, to establish the National Education Association (NEA Teacher Union), and it was supported by public organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. They called it Compulsory Public Education, and one of their arguments was the need to promote “Americanism” and “democracy”.
The goal was actually one of destroying diversity.
Their rhetoric included calling parochial schools “un-American” and anti-democratic.
In 1922, Oregon made it illegal for any child between the ages of 8 and 16 to attend a non-government school.
Thankfully, in 1925, the United States Supreme Court declared Compulsory Public Education to be unconstitutional, and they knocked down many of these laws – starting with Oregon – in the Pierce v. Society of Sisters case.
An east coast education establishment journal called the Massachusetts Teacher wrote: “In too many instances the parents are unfit guardians of their own children … the children must be gathered up and forced into school” in the 1850’s.
In the late 1800’s, the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction wrote, “The child should be taught to consider his instructor, in many respects, superior to the parent in point of authority … [T]he vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous.”
The goal of radical activists of the 1800’s remains the same today: all children must be educated in government-run schools. Parents rights do not matter.
This is why we have come together
With a positive outlook, trusting parents and families to make good decisions for their children, and seeking to maximize student success, we are working to make Ohioans aware that they have options for their most important responsibility: raising the next generation.
The answer isn’t taking away scholarships or banning free speech.
The answer is knowledge, transparency, and empowerment.