Ohio Schools: Struggling For A Voice That Might Never Be Heard

Hallie Witwer
Schools across the nation have been a major concern for years and Ohio is no exception. With the government coming up with supposed solutions, such as No Child Left Behind, and educators struggling with continuous budget cuts and failing levies, it’s beginning to seem like our educational issues may never be solved. With money, politicians, and general drama in the spotlight, I wonder if many of us are forgetting the kids that are getting buried underneath it all.

Congress has yet to come up with a budget for the rest of the year and schools across the nation are beginning to feel the frustration of the inability to plan. With each side of congress holding a different ideal for future spending- Democrats wanting to give slight increases to a few K-12 programs and Republicans pursuing overall cuts in education spending- it’s caused a delay in decision making, and therefore a delay in progress for the nation’s school systems. What's worse is that without the federal budget decided, school systems are unable to focus on state and local budgets, leaving millions more on the chopping block.

On top of the budget setbacks, several states have been dealing with weeks of protests and rallies lead by teachers and other public employees fighting state government spun bills to keep their bargaining rights. When passed, the bills threaten to prevent public workers from the right to strike or negotiate benefits, including pension, sick time, and healthcare.

Disappointing many, Wisconsin passed their own form of union-limiting legislation on March 11th, signifying a terrible defeat to the labor movement. Here in Ohio, massive protests have congregated in Columbus, with smaller rallies taking place in suburbs, such as Cuyahoga Falls, Kent, Stow, Mansfield, Athens, and Fairview Park, just to name a few. Things are heating up, making it easy for the protestors to forget the frigid weather. Ohio Senate Bill 5 has not yet been passed, but government officials don’t seem to be letting up. Judging from the growing number of attendees at each protest, however, neither are our states’ educators.

Want to take part in this particular movement? The OEA (Ohio Education Association) Educator Lobby Day on March 29, 2011 offers a chance to meet and talk with our state senator and state representative. If you’re able to take a little road trip to Columbus that week for an hour-long briefing in the Media Center of the OEA building, and are concerned for the future of collective bargaining rights in the state of Ohio, this is the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard. The briefing begins at 9:00 a.m. To RSVP to this event, go to the following link- RSVP OEA. Ohio is in danger of an $8 billion deficit. At stake are school funding, education reform, collective bargaining, and pension benefits. If this is something you are against, then take an active part in saving these essential aspects of our school systems and educators.

With all that our schools have to go up against year after year (no text books, overcrowding, under staffing, and the list goes on) it’s a wonder our nation’s children get by as well as they do at times. Unfortunately, there are too many other times that Ohio’s children don’t get by and end up slipping through the cracks. Hopefully somewhere in the near future our schools and its educators can begin to get the support they need. Once that is in place, the focus can go back to the kids, where it really belongs.
Picture by Frank Lanza