State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) organized and led the inaugural meeting of the Ohio Education Funding Caucus (EFC) on Wednesday. Discussion revolved around forming a general framework for how the group will operate and decide what goals they should pursue.
“We had a good discussion today (Wednesday) about the general issues surrounding public school funding,” said Rep. Patterson. “But we decided as a group that we don’t want to just sit and talk about the issues as some have done in the past. It’s easy to say what’s wrong with school funding. It’s a lot harder to take action and actually make the changes that will make the system better. We know nothing’s going to happen over night, but we’re optimistic that, if we’re all serious about this, we can truly make our education system adequate, equitable, and sustainable for all Ohioans.”
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled three times that Ohio’s method of funding public education is unconstitutional. Rep. Patterson and members of the EFC agreed that anything they recommend to the legislature must, first and foremost, make the system constitutional.
Rep. Patterson and group members also stressed the importance of education on developing and maintaining high-quality jobs.
“There’s a direct correlation between education and our state’s economic development,” Rep. Patterson continued. “We understand that businesses won’t have a qualified workforce without a well-educated workforce. And the education that it takes to make it in today’s world ultimately starts in K-12. By improving education funding, we’re investing in our kids, our local communities and the economic well-being of our state.”
The group will meet next in early December to discuss the many unfunded mandates that the state legislature has required of public schools.
The Education Funding Caucus, led by Rep. Patterson, is a bipartisan group of members from both the Ohio House and Senate. The eleven Democratic Caucus members and nine Republican Caucus members will meet as often as once a month to discuss issues most pressing to the state’s unconstitutional education funding model. The group will invite experts from the education field to testify on a variety of solutions and initiatives.
“We’ll be open-minded and entertain anyone’s ideas,” said Rep. Patterson. “We know we don’t have all the answers, so we’ll be looking for people of all backgrounds who want to share their views.”