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Big mandate, little funding

June 20, 2012
Salem News

Children who don't learn to read at an early age often lag behind their peers throughout school. In extreme cases, they become so frustrated by failure they either stop trying to succeed in the classroom or drop out of school.

Ohio legislators are right to be insisting public schools do a better job in reading education. But by merely adding that priority to an already long list of mandates, they may be setting schools up for failure.

Legislators have approved a bill that, among other things, requires more emphasis on reading education. The reading skills of children in kindergarten through third grade are to be evaluated. Those who need help must be provided "intensive, explicit and systematic instruction" to improve reading skills.

But lawmakers provided just $13 million to make that happen throughout the state.

Insisting every new education mandate must be accompanied by tons of new funding is unwise, impractical and sometimes counter-productive. But the kind of help many students will need under the new law will be expensive. Lots of individualized attention will be required. Legislators should consider providing more money.

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Misguided ideas of turf protection - and very concrete thoughts of job security - have prevented many local governments and school districts in Ohio from cooperating. But working together could save taxpayers more than $1 billion a year, according to a new state report.

The report outlines various ways schools and local governments can cooperate to save money, ranging right up to sharing management services. That could mean some job losses, of course.

But Ohioans simply cannot afford to continue paying for unneeded services. Taxpayers should insist on more cooperation.

 
 

 

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