News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Knight Foundation

Meaden & Moore

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Government and Politics

Ohio's constitutional update could eliminate school funding mandate
School choice advocates are pushing for Constitutional Modernization Commission to change language that's 160 years old

Karen Kasler
Ohio's Constitution has included the funding language since a time when one-room school houses were common.
Courtesy of Ron Saari
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

For 160 years, Ohio has had a constitutionally mandated public school system. Now, an appointed panel of lawmakers, former public officials and well-connected experts are examining how the Ohio Constitution can resolve the debate over how to pay for it.

In the third of a three-part series on the Constitutional Modernization Commission, Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports that language dealing with public education could be dramatically changed.

LISTEN: Constitutional changes and school funding

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:45)

The 1851 version of the Ohio Constitution set up the state’s public school system by directing state lawmakers to use taxes to secure a “thorough and efficient system of common schools.”

Those words “thorough and efficient” have gotten a lot of attention over time. And Columbus attorney Chad Readler proposed to the committee of the Constitutional Modernization Commission dealing with public education that those words be eliminated. He maintains that would put lawmakers back in charge of public education, and not the courts.

“That language has been used as a vehicle to take those disputes to court and have judges set our education policy rather than boards of education and legislators. And in my mind that’s a concern. I think that boards of education and legislatures are better equipped to address education policy issues.” 

Gutting public education
Public school advocates howled when they heard about Readler’s proposal – especially when they noted Readler is the chairman of the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

“To remove the standard from the Constitution would be devastating to public education,” argues Bill Phillis.

Phillis knows that language very well. He led the landmark lawsuit in which the Ohio Supreme Court repeatedly ruled the way Ohio pays for public education unconstitutional. Phillis says with that language, the courts have put needed pressure on lawmakers.

No enforcement, no movement
Charlie Wilson is a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University and a past president of the Ohio School Boards Association. 

“If there’s not some kind of enforcement mechanism, then it’s very easy for the General Assembly to ignore the Constitution, and then you get to the question of why even bother having a Constitution.”

Wilson fears if that language is removed, there would be no right to public education in Ohio, because the U.S. Supreme Court has already held that education is not a federal fundamental right and has left it to the states.

More language not less
Instead of eliminating “thorough and efficient”, some are calling for more words to be added to that article. Maureen Reedy is a teacher and the founder of Central Ohio Friends of Public Education. 

“Let’s use this to put in stronger, more specific language to protect the fundamental right for all of Ohio’s children to have equal access to educational opportunities where every tax dollar is returned to support and instruct our children.”

But two lawmakers on the commission say that may not be the answer either. Bill Coley is a Republican senator from Cincinnati, and a strong supporter of school choice. 
“If we decide to make a change, we want to make sure that it’s something that empowers parents so that they can pick what works best for their child.”

Republican Rep. Matt Huffman of Lima is a supporter of school choice and a critic of the lawsuits on school funding. He says the discussion about changing the language is purely academic, since it avoids what he sees as a need to make major changes in public school funding.

“Ambiguity really benefits the people who are making the decisions and getting the money. Until we’re willing to admit that that’s the problem, it’s not really going to benefit solving the current problem.”

No vote on the proposal to eliminate the “thorough and efficient” language is scheduled. And if the commission does eventually approve it, a supermajority of the Legislature would have to pass it before it could go to voters.


(Click image for larger view.)

Related WKSU Stories

Ohio's 'sprawling behemoths' are next up for Constitutional Modernization
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First up for Ohio's constitutional modernization mission: Term limits
Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Kasich campaign evokes dark images of a Trump presidency

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University