State lawmakers making it tough for Dayton Public Schools

Dayton Public Schools should be the central character in a Rocky type movie- beaten, down, given no chance of survival, they’ve been fighting their way back to legitimacy over the last four years. The school board, the Superintendent and a bunch of very hard working, underpaid and devoted teachers are taking on challenges of poverty, a transient student body, a slow transition to new facilities and toughest of all- challenges from Charter schools that don’t have to meet the same standards- but are allowed to siphon away funds.

Now, our State Legislature in its infinite wisdom- has decided to allow students from more schools to take $5,900 with them if they attend a private school. The State has also stepped in and decided that public schools MUST sell publicly owned school buildings to a charter school if they are unused. Can you imagine this happening to a private business? Would GM be forced to sell shuttered plants to Toyota if they weren’t going to use them?

If the playing field was level- and charter and private schools had to meet the same standards as public schools this wouldn’t be so repulsive, but, if charter and private schools were also forced to integrate, accept all students regardless of race, economic condition, disability- then it might be fair.

Dayton Public Schools have been discriminated against by lawmakers since forced school busing began the economic segregation of our community- now they are facing yet another law that will put them at a competitive disadvantage as they are making their comeback run. The public officials need to stop these attacks on our public education system now. If they don’t, we may no longer have one in Dayton left to kick around.

“Yo, Adrian” – anyone listening?

More schools become eligible for voucher program under new bill
Students may move if school has been on academic watch for two years, not three.

By Anthony Gottschlich
Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

COLUMBUS — — State lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that more than doubles the number of school buildings eligible for state-funded vouchers, the system that pays for students in troubled public schools to attend private schools.

Public school leaders immediately criticized the bill.
“We’re looking at working with declining funds for public education in the state,” Dayton Superintendent Percy Mack said. “Taxpayers are paying for traditional public schools, charter schools and now they’re funding private schools.”

If signed by Gov. Bob Taft, 14 Dayton schools would be eligible for vouchers next year, up from seven today.

Vouchers allow students at consistently low-performing schools to use up to $5,900 in state money for private school tuition.

House Bill 79 loosens the restrictions on which school buildings are eligible for vouchers. Currently, the program is for students attending buildings that have been in “academic watch” or “academic emergency,” the lowest of the state’s school report card ratings, for three straight years. The new standard reduces that standard to two of the past three years.

State Rep. Tom Raga, R-Mason, said the bill extends the opportunity for more students to “move out of underperforming school districts.”

Asked if the bill was passed now to head off opposition from Democratic Gov.-elect Ted Strickland, who takes office in January, Raga responded: “To me, it’s pro-education, not in relation to any future elected official.”

The bill passed 71-21 in the House and 21-12 in the Senate after a joint conference committee approved the bill in some last-minute maneuvering Monday night.

The bill originally was written to strengthen criminal background checks for teachers and reporting requirements of teacher misconduct. Besides the voucher component, it also picked up amendments that Republicans say improve charter school accountability, such as:

• Requiring chronically poor performing schools to close.

• Prohibiting charter school board members from serving on more than two boards at a time.

• Requiring that public districts sell a building to a charter school if it has not been used for a year and there is no plan to use it for the next three years.

• Ordering the Partnership for Continued Learning, a panel of state officials and appointees, to assess how charter schools are managed and how they affect public and private schools in Ohio.

Taft is pleased with the charter school components but will take a closer look at the bill before deciding to sign it, spokesman Mark Rickel said.

Which schools are eligible?

Dayton Public schools eligible for the voucher program next year under the bill:

Dayton: Allen, Belle Haven, Cornell Heights, Edison, Fairview, Kiser, Meadowdale, Orville Wright and Van Cleve at McGuffey elementary schools; Wilbur Wright Middle School; Belmont, Colonel White Performing Arts, Dunbar and Meadowdale high schools

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