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Governor calls for education overhaul
Buckeye Farm News
Gov. Ted Strickland hopes a sweeping education plan will increase accountability and performance standards while reworking school funding.
“We’re looking at the evidence as to what really works and we want to develop a system that is built upon that evidence,” the governor told farmers this month.
The plan aligns with several Farm Bureau priorities, including the expanded use of distance learning programs, celebrating academic achievement at the same level as athletic achievement, improving the teacher evaluation process and reforming teacher tenure practices. Farm Bureau also advocates for fair taxation of agricultural property owners and better integrating agricultural education into curricula.
When fully implemented in 10 years, Strickland’s proposal would extend the school year by 20 days, bringing Ohio in line with the international average, he said. It would also establish universal all-day kindergarten.
Teachers would be required to complete a four-year residency with an experienced educator before they earn their license. They would be eligible for tenure after nine years instead of three. School boards would also have more authority to fire bad educators.
“I honor teachers, but not everybody is cut out to be a teacher,” Strickland said.
For each school district, the Department of Education would issue an annual fiscal and operational report card to present to the taxpayers.
In addition to many other performance provisions, Strickland said his plan also takes a more equitable approach to school funding.
The state would eventually see its share of local school budgets increase to 59 percent. It would also deal with complexities in Ohio’s property tax law that frequently force schools to put levies on the ballot, Strickland said.
This would be done through a “conversion levy,” which would allow certain school districts to tie a portion of local tax revenue to increases in property values. The result is that a base level of local school funding would increase with inflation rather than a vote.
The governor also said his proposal eliminates “phantom revenue,” which occurs when the current state funding formula assumes school districts have money that doesn’t really exist.
As lawmakers delve into the plan’s details, questions are being raised as to whether the state can afford to pay for all of Strickland’s big ticket items. OFBF believes any educational mandate should be fully funded through the life of the mandate.
"As more details of the governor's proposed education package become public, Ohio Farm Bureau will be working to ensure any education reform reflects our key values and priorities," said Beth Vanderkooi, OFBF director of state policy.