BookPencil3Remember that old limerick that went, “No more pencils! No more books! No more teachers’ dirty looks!”? I sure do – it’s a traditional rhyme I learned when I was in first grade. And in my memories, I can still hear the older kids chanting it on the bus on the last day of school, as the driver (happily) completed his final route for the year.

Rarely did I participate in the chant because, well, I was kind of a nerd. I enjoyed scholarship and didn’t necessarily look forward to summer break each year, where I would be separated from my classmates and a structured learning environment for three long months.

I attended public school in a small town in rural Ohio for twelve years, grades 1-12, but I did not attend Kindergarten. Back then (1964) Kindergarten was not an Ohio early education requirement for attending a public school. Local churches sponsored it and the parents paid the tuition - if they could afford it - and had to provide transportation for their child.

It wasn’t until 1966, that Kindergarten became part of the Ohio public schools program. In 1976, despite missing out on the kindergarten experience; I graduated from high school with honors, thanks to wonderful, caring and compassionate teachers - public school teachers.

Education in Ohio has changed quite a bit, since I was a student; and that change has not always been for the better. Since Gov. John Kasich and the Republicans in the state legislature came into office, education in Ohio has been in steady decline: In 2010 Ohio public schools were ranked 5th in the nation; in 2014 they were down to 18th; one year later, in 2015, Ohio education ranked 23rd.

Why this shameful deterioration in Ohio education under Kasich and the GOP? The answer to this question lies in the right-wing agenda for privatization and an apparent GOP desire to penalize teachers and local school districts.

No More Pencils, No More Books:

According to a 2015 report published by Innovation Ohio, public schools, which educate 90% of Ohio’s children, are receiving $515 million less state funds since Kasich took office; while funding for charter schools[ii] has increased by 27%, and the cost of local school levies has jumped up 34%. Furthermore, because of the eradication of the 12.5% property tax rollback, levies have cost local taxpayers $10 million more than they would have otherwise. BookPencil2

In other words, while Kasich and the GOP in Ohio have slashed education funding for public schools (remember, 90% of Ohio children attend public schools); they have increased state funding to private/charter schools. This means that working/middle-class taxpayers are subsidizing private/charter schools at the expense of the public schools attended by their own children and/or grandchildren.

Charter Schools and Dirty Crooks[ii]:

My home state of Ohio is noted for being the “wild, wild west” of charter schools. That is not a distinction of which Buckeyes should be proud. As Steven Dyer, Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio, points out, it is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing.

The charter school and the private entities that sponsor them is not a problem exclusive to Ohio, though Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, does owe the state $5.3 million in fines for her school privatization efforts. The 'school choice' cancer is spreading throughout the nation and DeVos[iii] is encouraging the malignancy. As I was writing this, a vote on her confirmation was taking place in the Senate. She was confirmed, with Pence’s deplorable, tie-breaking vote. She is not qualified, and the future of public schools and our children’s education is in jeopardy.

A film short by Brave New Films, pretty much sums it up: Watch “Protect Public Education: Stop Betsy DeVos” and then call (202) 224-3121 and ask your representatives in Congress to STAND UP for PUBLIC SCHOOLS and OUR CHILDREN.  Make the call, regardless of today’s confirmation vote. Do not allow our public school system to be broken by the greedy, thieving, dirty crooks that only care about staying in power, and turning a profit.

broken pencil

AUTHOR’S NOTE: My childhood best friend and next-door neighbor, Suzie Yount, got to go to a privately funded Kindergarten. I missed her companionship on the days she was in class, and wished I could be with her. This past summer was our 40th High School Class Reunion and I got to see Suzie and other friends from our public school graduating class. It was a wonderful experience, where we were able re-connect and laugh, sharing memories of our adventures – and a few misadventures, too. I’m glad I was a part of it. Shout out to all my class of 1976 mates! I love you.

On another note: At the end of “OH, Ohio! (Part 4)”, I told you a Trump-voter girlfriend of mine was going to list reasons why she felt the way she did about Hillary Clinton, the candidate who won the popular vote by an historic margin in last year’s election. She never got back to me with the requested list, and I’m not going to ask again. It doesn’t matter at this point. The un-fightable Electoral College decision is done. However, the real fight is just beginning...

Be Indivisible, my friends. Resist 45’s authoritarian regime. Peace out.

[i] Charter schools (also known as “community schools”) are publicly funded, but privately managed K-12 schools.

[ii] So many dirty crooks; and so little space that I had to rip out of this article the many names, statistics, etc. that I’ve collected in researching this topic. I will write a follow-up piece in the next few weeks and include this data.

[iii] For more in-depth coverage of Ohio's poor-performing charter schools, check out the well-vetted articles on Plunderbund, Ohio's award-winning political blog.

Bonnie Bertelson

Bonnie Bertelson

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Recent Articles
Friends Don’t Let Friends Post BS
Political Domestic Violence
IMHO: The Glenn Simpson Transcript
Orange Is The New Whack III
Orange is the New Whack II

  • No comments found