Ohio Governor Faces Criticism Over Education Claims

Last Updated: August 26, 2010

This article appeared in the August 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, campaigning four years ago, promised to “fix” school funding, a goal that has eluded Ohio policymakers, advocates, parents, and other stakeholders for years. Strickland, now running for reelection, is touting his success on education funding, pointing to a new school funding formula enacted last year and claiming increases in overall school funding levels.

His critics, however, point out that the formula is not fully funded and that the increases for schools are a result of the infusion of federal stimulus dollars.

But William Phillis, the leader of a coalition of schools that sued the state over the funding system in 1991, has praised the new structure, claiming that the new model, when funded, will meet state constitutional standards and Ohio Supreme Court rulings. In four separate decisions, the Court ruled the system unconstitutional, but those orders went largely ignored by the legislature, and the Court eventually ended its jurisdiction over the case.

The new formula is an “evidence-based” model, meaning that the state selects and funds only educational methods that are supported by research on best practices. Another important feature of the system is that, when fully funded, funding for Ohio schools will be based on need-determined evidence rather than what is available in the state’s annual budget. An advisory council is meeting to study ways to implement the new plan within the current economic context.

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Fact-checking on Strickland’s claims about education funding:

Editorial defending Strickland’s plan:

Read more from the August 2010 Rural Policy Matters.