Sunday, May 31, 2009


Republicans have controlled the Ohio Senate from 1985 through today: 24 continuous years.

For 17 of those years (1985 - 1992) Republican Scott Oelslager was Stark County's state senator.

For the last seven, its has been state Senator J. Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson).

In the build up to running against Democrat John Boccieri, Schuring, early in 2008, tried to talk his fellow Republicans (which controlled both the Ohio House and Senate) into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have done two things:
  • required the Ohio General Assembly to fund the education budget first; not last as is currently the order of things
  • stabilized the percentage of the Ohio budget that would fund education year-in and year-out
Schuring's bill was an improvement over the way things have been. But hardly an overhaul of a system of funding which was declared by the Ohio Supreme Court to be unconstitutional four different times before the Court washed its hands of the entire matter.

The percentage of Ohio's budget?

Consider this.

Akron Beacon Journal Statehouse reporter Dennis Willard wrote this today (GOP Senate boots chance to fix school funding):
In the late 1960s, almost every school district in Ohio was on the guarantee. [guarantee is a bad thing because district funding is at rock bottom - SCPR] It was a result of lawmakers, beginning in 1946, reducing the state share of education funding from 50 percent to 30 percent.
What Republicans have done since the first Ohio Supreme Court decision is throw millions into the education put without appreciably change the percents of the Ohio budget going towards education. It has hoovered between 37% to 40% which is not anywhere near the 1946 level of 50%. As a consequence, local taxpayers have anted
up the deficiency which is the reason Ohio's system of funding remains unconstitutional.

So where is Schuring now?

He could have helped Strickland by leading the fight to put rationality into funding. But he didn't. The man who claims he is no "cookie cutter" Republican, consistently acts as if he is.

Though an affable guy who is responsive to the housekeeping needs of his constituents, Schuring is an utter failure on policy grounds and fighting for meaningful reform on education funding.

Schuring sat by and let his Republican colleagues take Ohio into the dark ages of public education finance. As Willard points out, though the current funding on the basis of "number of students" system is deeply flawed; it's head and shoulders above what Schuring et al have done: make school funding an arbitrary - no criteria - "whatever the Ohio General Assembly says" process.

In its editorial today on the Senate action, The Repository speaks of another casualty of the Senate action: the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) stays put; not to be replaced the ACT scores for purposes of high school graduation and college entrance.

Retired judge of the Stark County Common Pleas Court W. Don Reader (a Republican who has undoubtedly supported Schuring over his years in the Legislature) will be outraged when he sees the OGT factor.

In May, 2008 Reader was in the audience when Eric Fingerhut came to Stark State College of Technology for a higher education forum and scolded Ohio for staying with the OGT.

Finerhut promised to try to achieve the change Reader (who is a board member at the Stark Education Partnership) advocated.

And try Fingerhut and the Strickland administration did. But the Ohio Senate scuttled the change.

What The Rep fails to point out is this.

Where was J. Kirk Schuring in "at least" fighting to the bitter end to save Judge Reader's proposal embraced by the Democrats?

Of course, we all know how protective that The Rep editorial board has been of Kirk Schuring for all of his years in politics. It must be the Timken Company connection.

Watch as Judge Reader makes his impassioned plea.

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