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Ohioans Join National Day of Action for Public Schools

PHOTO: Teachers, parents and community and educational leaders gathered in Columbus Monday as part of a nationwide “Day of Action” around issues plaguing public education.
December 10, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dozens braved the freezing temperatures Monday outside the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to do more to support public schools.

Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association, says educators, parents, labor and faith leaders joined together to highlight the ways they say Gov. John Kasich has failed to fund public education, while giving money to failing, for-profit charter schools.

"Except for a very few, the charter-school experiment here in Ohio has just been a complete failure,” she maintains. “And yet the governor continues to fund those schools."

Under the two-year budget signed this summer, both charter and traditional schools saw their basic aid increase, but charter schools will receive more money per-student than most traditional schools.

Meanwhile, charter school advocates say the schools are actually underfunded because they only receive money from the state, and cannot access local property funds such as traditional public schools.

Higgins says since 2008, more than $500 million has been cut from local schools, and what she finds disappointing is that the money is there.

"He is sitting right now on a rainy-day fund of close to a billion dollars, plus approximately a $400 million savings due to the Medicaid expansion,” she says. “And also he has this Straight A Fund of $250 million that schools have to write grants in order to get."

Higgins stresses students should come first, not private charter operators who, she says make millions. And she adds it's all about giving all Ohio children the education they deserve.

"My students are the most important thing to me, my first-grade students,” she says. “And they deserve to get the same high quality education that I received, when schools were being funded."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH