Monday, January 22, 2007

Education Amendment Check-In

It’s time to start talking about the proposed education amendment. To start with, during the runup to the announcement I boldly proclaimed that the amendment, while fraught with the difficulties of compromise, was overall a good thing. Well, the amendment text contained, let’s say, a couple of surprises. At this point, I’m undecided whether or not I support this, and my prospective involvement is likewise up in the air. I certainly don’t stake whatever credibility I may have on this thing.

That being uncomfortably and obliquely said, I’m planning on writing a series of posts unpacking the amendment section-by-section. I know a fair amount of the behind-the-scenes history, but will do my best not include that in the analysis. It’s all confidential and whatnot. I’ll also try to be neutrally descriptive in my analysis, avoiding judgements about whether provisions are good or bad ideas.

That said, let’s look at where we are now. The press reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. ABJ’s editorial yesterday joins those of the PD and Dispatch among the majors. Plenty of smaller papers have piled on with pieces like this one.

I would note that Bill Phillis from the Equity and Adequacy Coalition is painted as the bad guy by both the ABJ and this Kevin O’Brien nastygram. Taking shots at Bill is inaccurate and unfair. Unfortunately I can’t disclose the information to fully defend Bill, but I can state with confidence that people writing these pieces don’t have good information about how this came together.

Dennis Willard wrote a separate piece in yesterday’s BJ touching on an important theme – the use of the amendment to leverage for legislative changes in the school funding system. As Willard notes, using an admirable Seinfeld reference, the amendment gives education proponents hand. Just as RON gave us early voting, this could give us a real fix for phantom revenue or some such.

(BTW, Willard appears to have Dave Giffels slot while Giffels is on leave writing a book.)

So why is the media coverage so bleak? Part of it surely is the 11th hour opposition of big-city mayors and Strickland’s increasingly pointed criticisms. Part of it is that the amendment would radically change the structure of Ohio government, which makes editorial writers uncomfortable. But much of it also is the coalition’s near total silence since the Wednesday rollout. About this, I can offer no explanation.

UPDATE: Today's Dispatch has an interesting article about prospective effects of one of the proposal's key provisions; making education a fundamental right.


Jill said...

Thanks, Scott. Always good reading. And good info.

Daniel Jack Williamson said...

Are you suggesting that some cowardly person(s) are shrinking from acknowledging their handiwork in this debacle of an amendment that creates an additional bureaucracy without actually determining the sources of education funding? Hmm! Why am I not surprised