Chad L. Aldis, executive director of School Choice Ohio, took exception to a recent Columbus Dispatch letter to the editor from William Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding.
Mr. Phillis...takes issue with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's Fund the Child report, a document that seems like common sense to most Ohioans, except maybe the education establishment.
Mr. Phillis agrees with the Ohio Supreme Court that Ohio's school funding needs a "systematic overhaul." However, in his view a significant part of any solution is more money. This "blank check" approach, which can hardly be considered reform, will not increase equality without changes in how school districts distribute their resources among schools.
The Fordham Institute, praised by The Dispatch editorial board for offering a "fresh idea," presents a systematic overhaul in which all schools, no matter where they are, are funded according to their students' needs.
Mr. Phillis suggests that the Fordham Institute stands to benefit from their study. The truth is that Fordham and other innovative partnerships like those that support KIPP Academies and the Gates Foundation investment in STEM schools only benefit over time if they perform well. In the end, performance can be the only true measure of success for our schools.
School choice is growing rapidly because parents want more high quality options. Everyone knows that some children are excluded from these opportunities based solely on the income of their parents. That's what the Fordham Institute proposes to fix.
While our political freedom and free market economy may, as Mr. Phillis notes, be the envy of the world, our country's students continue to lag behind students in other industrialized countries like Finland, Canada, and South Korea. And this despite these countries spending much less per pupil on education than we do. If more money were the only answer, we would already be near the top in rankings. For Ohioans to compete in the global economy, new ways of thinking and complex problem solving for issues such as school funding must lead the way.
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