Ohio increased funding for education by nearly one billion dollars in the last budget, but it has become increasingly clear that money alone has not and will not improve Ohio’s K-12 education system.
For too long the focus on funding has ignored the other side of the coin: spending. The current system has resulted in too much top-down, Columbus-based command and control. That has done little to improve most local schools, and it has left too many unfunded mandates that only increase costs.
Republicans in general don’t believe this model of centralized planning works in any other aspect of government, so why do we think it works in K-12 education? It hasn’t and it won’t.
That is why our challenge is to free-up local schools, particularly high-performing local schools, to better manage and focus on local needs. What works and is necessary in Celina or Coldwater may or may not work or be necessary in Columbus or Cleveland.
It is as simple as it is true that without access to world-class higher education, Ohio and Ohioans will not have the level of opportunity we need to compete in this world economy.
We need to recognize and address the ever-increasing problem of rising education costs. No longer can we say that a system whose costs increase regularly above the rate of inflation will remain accessible and affordable.
I have issued the Senate five percent challenge to our public higher education colleges and universities, asking that they lower overall higher education costs by five percent this next year. While we should restrain ourselves from micromanaging the “how” – giving each institution the ability to creatively advise the best results – we should be steadfast in the “what” – at least a five percent reduction to the student cost of higher education.