The Ohio Senate Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education was asked to reconsider spending an additional $550 million on public education in the state’s biennial budget, House Bill 166.
Testifying before the committee Wednesday, Greg Lawson, a senior research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, pointed out that “Ohio’s spending on K-12 public education has grown faster than inflation even as Ohio’s achievement gap between African American and white students remains stubbornly high.”
“Spending more state money on education has not proven a viable solution to this persistent problem,” Lawson argued.
However, as Lawson reveals, House Bill 166 does just that. Over the course of Fiscal Year 2020 and Fiscal Year 2021, the budget proposes spending an additional $550 million on primary and secondary education.
“Even though Ohio ranks among the top 10 states with the largest projected enrollment declines over the rest of the decade according to the National Center for Education Statistics,” he added.
“More concerning still is that more state funds will be spent just as Ohio considers watering down state report cards, reducing accountability by eliminating academic distress commissions, and weakening graduation requirements,” he continued.
While the controversial academic distress commissions have flaws, Lawson does not believe they should be eliminated. School districts, he said, that have “failed their students for years should be held accountable.”
“The state should not intervene in the day-to-day operations of local school districts, but taxpayers and parents rightly demand accountability,” Lawson continued.
He also warned against “watering down graduation requirements,” but expressed support for “reducing some of the testing requirements that have burdened teachers and created a teach-to-the-test mentality.”
Lawson’s argument, in a nutshell, seems to be that the state shouldn’t ask less of teachers, schools, and students while spending more, saying “more money for less accountability should be a non-starter.”
“In conclusion, The Buckeye Institute urges this Committee to look closely at how much the state spends on primary and secondary education. Children are an incomparable resource and we do owe them what they need to succeed. We do not, however, owe the education bureaucracy a blank check to spend as they see fit even as our public schools perennially lag behind and enrollment declines,” Lawson concluded. “We should not expect less of our students, teachers, and administrators by watering down report cards, reducing accountability, and lowering graduation requirements. Ohio should not choose the path of low expectations.”
Lawson’s full testimony can be read here.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo “Students” by Liverpool School of English. CC BY 2.0.