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Time for a Change in Ohio's Public Education Funding

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Like many other states, funding for Ohio's public schools depends mainly on property taxes. The downfalls of this funding system have been ignored for decades by the majority of the nation. The dependence on local property taxes is unconstitutional and lacks stability; therefore, the state of Ohio should make education a priority in its budget to efficiently fund public education like it is called to do in the Ohio State Constitution.

"In DeRolph I, this court's primary concern with the state's funding system was that it relied too heavily on local property taxes to fund a statewide system. The problem this creates... is that a system overly reliant on local property taxes will result in disparities between districts..."

In this famed court case, the Supreme Court of Ohio declared Ohio's funding for public education unconstitutional because the state is dumping most of the burden of funding schools on local communities. The reliance on the community creates a wealth disparity, where districts in less affluent areas receive less funding per child than wealthier districts that collect more in property taxes. It is not fair that a student in a wealthy suburb is "worth" more than a child in a struggling in an Appalachian school district. It is the State's responsibility to fill that void, and promote equality in educational opportunity.

Ohio's funding system also lacks stability. America has witnessed the scary real-estate market bubble burst. And although in a minor upswing now, property values drastically dropped. Therefore, the amount of money in property taxes collected by districts decreased. Good market or bad market, a child's education should not be at its mercy. A report titled "The State of the Nation's Housing 2011" by the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University states, "The number of homeowner households declined by 805,000 in 2006-10."With less homeowners paying property taxes, districts are forced to harass its locals to pass levy after levy. More funding by the state is the only practical option to have a reliable, consistent funding system. Many other states allocate revenue from sales taxes. Many other countries have completely revolutionary public educational infrastructures that are worth observing and imitating in many ways. It's time for not only Ohio, but for the nation to take notes.

Many critics of the subject claim that more funding is not directly proportional to better school performance, so why give more money? This is not true at all because poor districts cannot attract quality teachers and expand programs like AP classes, while more affluent districts can. And these elements of education are known to increase students' performance. For one to say that the amount of school funding does not matter is a fallacy that acts as an expedient to dismiss talks of a higher educational standard because of bureaucratic laziness.

The state should not completely stop funding by property taxes; it should simply decrease public schools' reliance on them. By acknowledging the current system's unconstitutionality and instability -- and finally doing something about it -- the great state of Ohio can show the nation at large what adequate funding for public schools looks like. Let us influence the nation to abandon this unconstitutional practice, and start on a campaign for educational reform in America.

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