Monday, April 02, 2007

Strickland Vetoes Pro-Charter School Provision

It happened Friday, reported by AP Saturday. A transportation bill that Strickland signed had in it provisions that allowed charter schools to set up their own transportation systems. Strickland line-itemed out that provision. In his veto message he says “I am concerned that theacre was not sufficient debate about the impact or costs of this provision to our school districts . . . Several of Ohio’s school districts have expressed concern that this item could divert significant funds from their budgets.”

And a quick shout-out to the Coshocton Tribune for including a link to the signing statement in their online story. Adding a link to the end of an AP story. Strong.

Anyway, I hope to be able to do some closer analysis of this. For now I'll say that transportation has long been a sore spot for traditional schools as the right of charter students to get transported on the school district's dime is considerably broader than a traditional student's right to transportation.

For more reading, here's the bill, H.B. 67, and the Bill Analysis for the most recent version.


Paul said...


I've been carrying on a long conversation
with Jill about charter schools, a concept which I support in general, with some specific conditions.

The phrase you used in this note, to which I would like to comment, is that "charter students get transported on the school district's dime." The money the school gets was collected from the taxpayers of Ohio, and it is not unreasonable, in my opinion, for those taxpayers who choose to send their kids to alternative schools to expect that they too get some value for the tax dollars they pay.

I have a problem when a government entity starts thinking of the funding it receives as "its money." America is very nearly an aristocracy, with a ruling class of officeholders-for-life that assume ever increasing control of our lives.

Our government is not so much the causitive agent of America's success, it has grown to its power because Americans have been so prosperous that they've growth apathetic about government. I've worked as an precinct election official for a few years, since the 2004 primaries. While people came out in droves to vote for Kerry or Bush, most knew almost nothing about any of the other candidates or issues on the ballot. We had 80% turnout for that election. Since then, the turnout has been less than 20%.

I think big government is a bad thing, especially when it isn't adequately monitored by the citizenry. In science, it is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Perhaps that it true for for governments as well -- they hate to leave any aspect of life unregulated.

Scott Piepho said...

Boy, Paul, lots of thoughts.

Our basic disagreement is your statement that:

America is very nearly an aristocracy, with a ruling class of officeholders-for-life that assume ever increasing control of our lives.

Nope. Just don't buy it.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the language a blogger uses in what is obviously a get-it-up-quick posts. So yea "on the district's dime," wasn't the best phrasing. More accurate would be "paying for it out of the same pot of money they are supposed to use to educate the students who actually attend their school."

Or something.

Your point about people paying taxes being able to expect some value sounds nice. It's something we hear a lot. There are a couple of problems with it. First off, school districts currently provide transportation both for charter schools and private schools, so that value is already being provided. The question not asked by proponents of this provision is whether using taxpayer money to set up entire new transportation systems is the best use of the moeny.

A second problem is that the money we currently raise, state and local, barely pays for the schools for those kids who attend public school. If we use that money to pay for private school scholarships and/or new charter schools it will cost more money. Basic economics tells you that educating more kids in an increasingly atomized school system will cost more. Maybe that's what we want to do, but lets be realistic about what it means.

Paul said...

I don't accept it as fact that smaller school entities cost more per student than the mega-systems. I recognize that my thinking is influenced by living in one the larger school districts in Ohio, which operates with an astonishing amount of overhead. I say this not as some uneducated rube who criticizes without first studying the situation, but rather as a senior business executive who has managed global operations with budgets measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Our school system in particular, continues to make poor operational decisions because of the undo influence of local real estate developers on elected officials. For example, our newest high school (the third), which will cost $40 million and house 1800 kids, is being built in a corn field a mile away from any existing water/sewer/gas service, when much better sites were available. Perhaps it is not quite a coincidence that the ground across which those services will have to be run (and paid for by the school construction levy) is owned by one the largest homebuilders in central Ohio. It's a beautiful thing when you can get the school system to front the costs of your infrastructure. You can read all about this saga at if interested.

The same story has taken place in all of the Columbus suburbs, and most are now huge (five of the 11 largest districts in Ohio are in Franklin County), but operating on the brink of bankruptcy. With an annual budget approaching $200 million, our school district is the largest economic engine in our community, and there are plenty of shady operators out there trying to figure out how to get their hands on a piece of that money. It doesn't hurt that our state government is headquartered only ten miles away.

So yes, taxes should be collected to make sure every kid has access to an effective school. But I think that if we want to get the best value for those tax dollars, we need to do away with the public school monopolies and let parents have more choice.