Two years ago, the Great Lakes states' affiliates of the National Education Association launched the Think Twice project to "review think tank research on public education issues and policies" (see here). The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is on the short list of organizations they are keeping an eye on (see here), thus our recent report, Fund the Child: Bringing Equity, Autonomy, and Portability to Ohio School Finance received a review.
Bruce Baker of the University of Kansas provides a decent analysis of our report (see here), yet a few of his points deserve clarification:
- Fund the Child does not suggest that Ohio move to a fully state-funded and state-governed education system but rather calls for state education dollars to be allocated following the principles of Weighted Student Funding (WSF). Ideally, all education dollars would be weighted according to student needs and follow students to the public school they attend, but our report recognizes that Ohio's long tradition of local control makes this prospect challenging when it comes to locally generated dollars.
- Baker asserts that the three principles of Weighted Student Funding are actually three separable reform strategies mislabeled in Fund the Child as a single strategy. While each principle could be implemented singly, our report-and other WSF research before it-suggests that the principles are of equal importance and that implementing them independently will contribute to the failure of a WSF system.
- Baker cites as a failing in Fund the Child the omission of specific recommendations for setting weights beyond the examples provided from other WSF systems. Our report makes the case for moving Ohio to a WSF system but also recognizes that the task of setting weights is a political one that should fall to legislators and state education officials.