My mother was, and still is, an administrator in this district, and my aunt was a teacher at the time and is now assistant principal of the high school. Being close to the situation and seeing the human costs of budget cuts, it hurt me to see my community falling on its knees, and more importantly failing its children. I helped fight for the passage of those school levies (most of which failed) and the many that would follow — mostly because, at the time, I wanted to support my mom. Looking back, however, I realize that those budget cuts were impacting my education and the quality of the schools I was attending. I was watching as the soul was being ripped out of my community that I had grown to love.
Public K-12 education is a sensitive issue in Ohio today. Our public school funding formula has been found unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. In the most notable court case in 1997, DeRolph v. State, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the current state funding system for public schools was unconstitutional. On March 24, 1997, Justice Francis E. Sweeney wrote for the majority
, saying: “By our decision today, we send a clear message to lawmakers: The time has come to fix the system. Let there be no misunderstanding. Ohio’s public school-financing scheme must undergo a complete systematic overhaul.”
Ten years later, it still has not been fixed.
My district eventually passed a levy in 2007, and it has since been renewed twice by voters. We are now on the ballot again, on November 8th, to help fund the construction of two new elementary school buildings. I am proud of my district for working its way out of financial distress, but we still have our work cut out for us. Through this difficult process of fighting for more funding, I found a passion of mine in fighting for public education, and I found my voice. I hope to inspire more Americans in finding their voice on this issue, which is why I am writing this today.