A dozen years and more after a judge said Ohio wasn’t up to snuff in funding schools, it’s smackdown time in Columbus.
Gov. Ted Strickland campaigned on the idea he was going to remedy the problem identified in the DeRolph vs. Board of Education ruling, that Ohio’s system of funding public schools was inherently inequitable — because school districts with higher property values got more funding than did other districts, thanks to a system of locally-voted property taxes — and therefore unconstitutional.
Last week in the Register offices, Democrat Strickland said his term as governor would be judged by whether funding got fixed.
Strickland’s new nemesis is House Speaker Jon Husted, a Republican from the Dayton area. He’s challenging Strickland to make with the details of his school funding plan. Strickland’s reply: You guys have had a decade. I’ve had six weeks. Where’s your plan?
Strickland said he’s told Husted and company he’ll work with anyone — Democrat, Republican, whatever — who wants to work with him to fix the funding. But if Republicans don’t, Strickland warns, he’ll go to the voters — “and it’ll be Ted Strickland’s plan, a Democratic plan,” he said. Forget bipartisan; the GOP would be out in the cold.
So the gauntlet is thrown, the challenge given. This challenge is ours: Discard the political posturing. If Husted’s camp has a plan, or even an idea, approach Strickland with it, present it and listen to his. Let the camps compare their plans — and, let’s be honest, Strickland’s had to have been thinking about this for longer than six weeks — and come up with something to go before the legislature and its committees.
Kids aren’t Democrats or Republicans, and neither is the future for which we hope to prepare them. Help make sure future voters have a chance to intelligently prepare themselves for the task.