Ohio at a crossroads
February 17, 2009
A lot of people have been calling Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's schools proposal????a "bold" new way to approach education in the state. He'll take us to "world class" educational status.
And now here's the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, today (Tuesday), saying, in effect, "Hey wait a minute. This isn't very bold at all." In fact, this is "same old, same old," according to a Fordham study????authored by Paul T. Hill, a University of Washington school-finance expert. What the governor really is saying is hiring more adults will somehow make for more educated young Ohioans.
According to Hill, "once one gets past the rhetoric, one finds that the main active ingredients in the governor's plan are spending increases geared toward helping schools and districts employ more administrators, teachers, and support staff." The details of the proposal read like a jobs program rather than an education plan.
And the governor's idea of top-down, state-wide requirements for improving education also won't work well in a system that needs a lot less of the way things have always been done and a lot more innovation in the classroom. That's actually what taxpayers ought to be paying for.
The bottom line is that if Ohio wants to improve its schools, it must reward what works in the classroom. Money should chase performance. Instead, in Hill's words, "What we have now is a finance system that is focused on maintaining programs and paying adults, not on searching for the most effective way to educate our children."
We we're hoping that Governor Strickland might want to change that.