Surprise! GOP targets new money to rich school districts


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Legislators have been hearing it from school officials and parents, among others about the Governor’s cuts to school in the state budget. Schools are already threatening major cuts in programs, increases in fees, and layoffs of teachers and staff.

This week, the Senate, like their House counterparts before them, found more money and found a way to send it to the rich school districts they represent.

And thus was invented the $17 per student school district “reward” for academic achievement. In total, $28 million was set aside for districts that get an A or A+ on state report cards. Republicans called it an incentive for districts to do better.

But an incentive would reward future behavior. This doesn’t – it rewards past achievement. And it is vastly disproportionately directed at wealthy school districts. According to an analysis by the Ohio Association of School Business Officials:

  • 45 of 46 “very high income” districts in Ohio will get the bonus (so Rocky River and Olentangy, you are in luck)
  • Only 26 of 97 rural high-poverty districts will get any bonus money (sorry Trimble Local SD)
  • And ZERO (0) of 15 large urban districts get any bonus money
  • Here is the complete list of districts and the amount they will receive

It’s quite devious, really. They designed a “solution” that sounds common sense if you don’t think about it for more than a second. But when you look at the numbers, it’s quite clear that whatever they call it, it is a way to funnel more money to rich schools and less to poor. Or, in the words of Senator Michael Skindell, from an interview with Gongwer:

“the districts that have high levels of poverty that … try to educate a larger number of students with special needs, that have greater challenges with languages are being penalized and not getting additional funding to meet those critical educational needs, where wealthy, well-performing districts are benefiting from this.”

Skindell asks the important question, if you want to create an incentive for schools to be effective, shouldn’t you provide struggling districts with the resources to do better? But that’s the thing. The GOP doesn’t want to help struggling districts. They want to de-fund them so that they fail, and charter and private schools will be allowed to swoop in and snap up those those kids for their programs at taxpayer expense, lining their pockets in the process.

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