A letter to Governor DeWine

To the editor:

This letter was sent to Gov. DeWine…

Dear Governor DeWine,

As you have seen, our public schools have stepped up to the pandemic challenge.  Schools have completely overhauled how they are teaching our students.  Some did this in as little as 48 hours!  For the most part, teachers are going the extra mile to provide interesting, engaging and varied lessons to make the difficult task of distance learning as meaningful as possible.  Many are working harder and longer than ever.  They have made themselves available for frequent communication with students and parents and their administrators.  They are going out of their way to help and encourage students with parades, yard signs, and recognition of all sorts!

Schools are also doing their best to continue many of the non-academic services that they provide, the most obvious being feeding students and families.  They are providing internet service/devices and are helping with many social service requests.

Everyone has learned so much.  The main lesson learned is that distance learning falls far, far short of in- person classroom instruction.  Only the best teachers and most dedicated students with the most dedicated parents can really do distance learning well.  Those who really care about education are more than ready to get back to the classroom.

Now schools are faced with the issue of next fall.  Will they be able to re-open as usual or will education take on another completely different appearance?  Will educators now have to add public health enforcer to their already long list of duties?  In the last few years, they became security guards and have been trained to deal with active shooters.  Some carry guns.  They are watch dogs for child abuse, child neglect and child mental health and well being.  For some students, educators are the only stable adults they encounter in their daily life.  

Thank you Governor DeWine, for recognizing our public schools and educators.  You validated what we have always known:  Our schools do a great job.  We do not understand all the propaganda that our schools are failing.  OUR SCHOOLS ARE NOT FAILING.  Our public schools are the center of our communities!

I now want to respectfully ask that you reconsider cutting funding for schools.  Yes, K-12 is a large portion of the state budget.  (You might remember when Ohioans voted to implement a state income tax, it was on the premise that it would be used primarily for education.) Why is it the first area to be cut?  Why must education bear most of the brunt of cuts?  Are prisoners, or even libraries or arts more important?  Our constitution REQUIRES Ohio to provide a thorough and efficient education for our students.  Four times The Ohio Supreme Court mandated that the Ohio system of school funding be fixed.  It has not been fixed.  Our elected officials have neglected our students.

Instead of fixing funding, billions of OUR Ohio tax dollars (not to mention OUR federal tax dollars) have been spent on a 20-year experiment to revamp our public education to a system of “choice.”  Hundreds of “experimental” charter schools have been given money intended for our local public schools. A small percentage of those schools are legitimate and have done well, but MOST provide an inferior education or no education at all.  Those schools do not have to “play by the rules” and so they don’t.  Students have been cheated while charter school organizers have become millionaires.  Charter schools are about making money, not educating students.  It is a get-rich-quick scheme using our tax dollars!  Education is NOT a business, and for-profit schools using OUR tax dollars is unjust, immoral and illegal.  Please call time of death on the charter school experiment and give our public schools the money that is rightfully theirs!

Our schools have been asked to do more with less and are being asked to do that again.  They have already cut so much.  If you actually care about the future of education in Ohio, please reconsider your proposed cuts.  Please stop taking OUR tax dollars to fund for-profit education.  Remove funding for charters and vouchers and balance the budget that way.  

Governor DeWine, you have done a fantastic job handling the pandemic.  You have earned the admiration of many in our state.   I believe that our public school crisis is just as crucial.  PLEASE formulate a plan to save the life of OHIO’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  Call in the education first responders (educators) and call in the funding experts.  Look at what successful schools and states are doing.  Learn what works and what doesn’t.   Give education the same attention and diligence that you are giving the pandemic.  Give education the attention it deserves!  Give our students the education our constitution guarantees!

Respectfully yours,

Joan Gibson,

Salem, Ohio


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