May 13, 2005

School Funding in Ohio

Wednesday evening, I spent two hours watching and discussing a film about the school funding problem in Ohio. It was the last of our "3D After Dark" sessions that City Year holds monthly to offer a chance at further leadership and civic development beyond what the City Year curriculum offers. After 10-or-so months tied to an organization that works in five Columbus elementary schools, I already recognized the need, but had yet to hear a worthy response to the problem. The most enlightening aspect of the evening came toward the end when we had a round table discussion of the issue with fellow Corps Members and a Service Alliance member (the Service Alliance is a group of young professionals affiliated with City Year doing service and raising funds to help spread our cause).

Even with a group of only ten random individuals, we all experienced all the extremes of school funding. One individual went to a plush school with excessive funding, another to a rural school that needed major repairs, others that were inner-city school children growing up, and some like me that went to well-funded suburban schools that missed many of the problems identified in the film. Nonetheless, we talked and communicated about the different problems and options we witnessed everyday and from our past.

In the end, I changed from my original position of needing to retain community control and funding of the schools to one of statewide funding and control. Using this system, the schools can stream line the process. Rather than reinventing the wheel in each township, city, and village, the system can be unified and implemented everywhere saving money and ensuring excellent education for all. Perhaps the current means of education is one of the last remaining vestiges of a disparate and unjust stratification of society. Only once we are unified and equal can we really expect everyone to have an equal playing field. Take the best practices and use them everywhere. If only I ran things, eh?