Catherine Candisky The Columbus Dispatch @ccandisky
Four Democrats are seeking their party's nomination for governor, and all have ambitious plans for improving Ohio's education system and preparing students for jobs of the future.
They are promising universal pre-kindergarten, free college tuition, stricter charter-school oversight, less student testing, and more funding for schools. Here is a look at the candidates' education priorities and — generally — how they will pay for them.
Cordray is a former director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a former Ohio attorney general. He hopes to improve education by ensuring that all young children are ready to start kindergarten and by giving every high school graduate the opportunity to earn a post-secondary degree.
Cordray’s education-policy proposals include universal pre-K, more equitable funding of primary and secondary schools, stricter oversight of privately operated, tax-funded charter schools, and free community college.
“Evidence shows that access to preschool boosts a child’s academic performance and helps set our children on a more successful track for the rest of their lives,” Cordray said.
The Grove City native notes that Ohio schools slipped from fifth in the nation in 2010 to 22nd last year in Education Week’s annual Quality Counts ranking. Parents, he said, most often don’t send their children to preschool because they can’t afford it. Cordray said universal pre-K would cost $140 million a year, and he would tap public and private sources to pay for it.
Cordray's K-12 priorities include ensuring equity in school funding, reducing standardized student testing, and "walking back" school report cards issued annually by the state, which he called "cartoonish." He also supports more rigorous evaluation of charter schools and prompt closure of poorly performing ones.
Cordray proposes making community college free for all Ohioans to give students access to a post-secondary degree and ensure a well-trained workforce. By 2020, 64 percent of Ohio jobs will require an associate degree, but only 37 percent of working-age adults have a degree. At the same time, Cordray notes, Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in college affordability.
He estimates that free tuition would boost Ohio’s community-college enrollment by up to 35 percent and cost an additional $60 million a year after tapping available grants and aid, and he would redirect state funds to cover the cost.
Kucinich, a former U.S. representative and Cleveland mayor, has an education plan that focuses on making college more affordable and keeping graduates from leaving the Buckeye State.
Kucinich would make the first two years of college free and pay off students' loan debt in return for two years of public service.
"We enable them to find a way to relieve themselves from the tremendous, crippling burden of debt, and we also enable young people to get a start here tuition-free at any college, university or trade school,” Kucinich said. He would tap Ohio's $2 billion rainy-day fund to leverage funding for the free-tuition program.
And to pay off student loans, Kucinich proposes that the state negotiate with debt holders to reduce the amount owed and issue bonds to cover it. In exchange, graduates would work 10 to 20 hours a week in unpaid community service.
"It could be in a hospital, tutoring, helping the elderly — there are hundreds of different ways that people could be able to make a contribution," he said. Ohio voters or the legislature would have to approve the plan.
Kucinich noted that the default rate on student loans is nearly 50 percent, with as many as 800,000 young Ohioans facing default on student loans. College student-loan debt in Ohio ranks 16th highest in the nation.
He also wants to rein in charter schools — which critics complain drain tax money from traditional public schools — by requiring that they first be approved by the local school board and then taxpayers. Currently, anyone who meets state criteria can open a charter school.
Kucinich said public schools lose more than $1 billion a year to charters without any input from local taxpayers, often leading to cutbacks in teachers and programs.
The Cuyahoga Falls native, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice, says he wants to make ollege more affordable by reducing tuition at state institutions. He also wants to tackle Ohio's decades-old school-funding issue.
"Every kid deserves an equal shot at a quality education," O'Neill said. "We need to get away from the illegal property-tax-based funding system and get serious about implementing a thorough and efficient method of providing a high-quality education to all our children."
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court found the state's system of funding public education unconstitutional because of an over-reliance on local property taxes. The court relinquished jurisdiction of the notorious DeRolph case several years later, although O'Neill said lawmakers never fixed the system.
O'Neill said there is enough money in the system; it just needs to be redistributed. He proposes adding an education czar to the governor's cabinet to advocate for primary and secondary students. Ohio has a state schools superintendent who is hired by the State Board of Education and does not report to the governor.
As for higher education, O'Neill he would "demand as governor" annual 10 percent reductions in tuition and room-and-board at four-year state colleges for four years. To pay for it, O'Neill would increase state aid to higher education and ask institutions to cut spending.
"Kids are graduating from college $100,000 in debt, and they cannot afford to buy a car, build a house or start a family. They are not enjoying the American dream. They are not stimulating the economy, and they are being punished for following the rules. The rules have to change."
The state legislator from Boardman would lower tuition costs by increasing state funding to colleges and universities, expanding student aid and reducing student debt.
Schiavoni has said for years that lawmakers have cut or flat-funded education. He would direct more state aid to both higher education and primary and secondary schools.
The former Senate minority leader would increase need-based aid for students through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and pay up to 100 percent of student debt for college graduates who buy a house within a few years of graduation in specified zones that the state is hoping to develop.
“It’s a way you can incentivize young people to stay, revitalize communities, help your housing market, and give them the debt relief they need," Schiavoni said.
He would close a tax loophole that allows limited-liability corporations to avoid about $1 billion a year in state income taxes, and that tax revenue would help fund his education initiatives.
Schiavoni also proposes universal pre-K, reducing student testing and expanding broadband internet access to thousands of rural homes, businesses and schools. Most students are expected to do schoolwork online, he said, but many are unable to because of unreliable internet service.
On testing, he noted, the federal government requires 17 tests, but Ohio mandates up to 26. "We need tests to measure where kids are, but not this high-stakes testing where the kid doesn't do good, then the teacher looks like they are doing a bad job, then the school district gets dinged by the state, and the state cuts funding or takes them over," he said.
In addition, Schiavoni would abolish for-profit charter schools and tighten oversight in the wake of the ECOT scandal. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow shut down this year after being ordered to repay the state $80 million for inflating attendance reports.
Source : http://www.dispatch.com/news/20180422/democratic-candidates-for-governor-have-big-plans-for-education