Fund Families Instead of the Common School System?

A Plan of Destruction of the System

A member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission indicated on August 8 that he wants school funds to be sent to families rather than school districts. He alluded to discussions in the Commission’s education committee about a proposal to permit that approach.

The money-follows-the-child approach has been touted as a reform measure for several years. This idea/slogan, no doubt, has gained momentum by its frequent repetition by those who attempt to justify carving away the public common school system into the wood chips of education choice programs.

Those who advocate the market-driven approach for the provision of public education fail to appreciate the connection between public schools and democracy. The public common school was established in every state as an institution to develop participating citizens. This public entity brings together children from vastly diverse backgrounds to learn to become citizens together. This convergence of all youth interacting with teachers was, and still is, critically important for this nation of immigrants — the United States of America.

Diverting funds from the public common school system to families will segregate young people and adults into a wide variety of racial, ethnic, political, economic, social and religious enclaves. The sense of community will be lost. The social compact will give way to a wild west, every man for himself existence. Tribalism will emerge in the course of time-rich vs. poor; Christians vs. non-Christians; paramilitary vs. government; race vs. race; strong v. weak, etc.

Those who advocate that school funds flow to the family instead of the public common school system seemingly cannot envisage the consequences. They, if successful, will destroy the public common school system and eventually the traditional American ethos.

This public money to the family approach to public education will result in chaos in public education just as such an approach would result in disarray of water service and sewage treatment, fire protection, law enforcement, highway construction and maintenance or any other necessary public service.

Try to imagine the community and statewide disorder and confusion that would prevail if families were given vouchers to shop for law enforcement, fire protection, water service and sewage treatment, highway construction, etc.

The clever, ongoing, protracted campaign to discredit the public common school system and to prop up charter and private schools has successfully intimidated the traditional public school advocates and induced public indifference to this issue. Unless there is immediate push back to this privatization movement, the traditional public school districts will become a mere shell of the past.

A public money-to-the-family approach to schooling would invite a myriad of for-profit companies and investors into the Ohio school market. Lucre-seeking entrepreneurs, with no interest in or experience with public education, would swoop into Ohio in a heartbeat.

By William Phillis, Executive Director of the Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding in Ohio

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