Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Patricia Frost-Brooks demanded more public school spending and decried school choice in an editorial published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week. In the essay, also carried yesterday by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Frost-Brooks dutifully blames teacher layoffs on insufficient funding while making no mention of the one-time spending from President Obama’s “stimulus” bill or the costs imposed by union contracts.
Reporting on Governor Kasich’s state budget for the Dayton Daily News, Christopher Magan wrote on March 16, 2011, “State support for local K-12 schools would be slightly increased under the plan, but the loss of federal stimulus money that was built into the current two-year budget will result in an overall 11.5 percent reduction for the next fiscal year and a 4.9 percent reduction in 2013.”
The Buckeye Institute, Ohio’s leading free-market think tank, released extensive research in 2011 revealing that 96 percent of school spending would be devoted to employee compensation by 2015. Based on financial forecasts school districts submitted to the Ohio Department of Education in October of 2010, Ohio’s public schools projected a statewide deficit of more than $7 billion by 2015. Click the graphic below to see details.
After spending millions of dollars in member dues to block reforms to Ohio’s public employee union law in 2011, OEA continues to demand spending that school district projections proved unsustainable before Kasich’s budget. Frost-Brooks insisted in her letter, “our elected leaders — Republicans, especially — need a wake-up call. Those of us who are educating the next generation of Ohioans understand that an investment in our public schools is an investment in Ohio’s future.”
President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act fueled a temporary surge in federal spending for public schools, but Department of Education spending has skyrocketed since the agency’s creation. Although The Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups have repeatedly debunked the union-driven notion that higher spending equals better education, Frost-Brooks seems to expect Ohio taxpayers to fill the gap left by one-time federal funds.
Despite an OEA vote this spring to begin organizing efforts in charter schools, Frost-Brooks also complained, “When our public schools are struggling financially, the last thing we need is to spend more taxpayer money on private school vouchers.” OEA’s power lies in the forced dues taken from public educators’ paychecks, so any money diverted away from public schools represents a direct threat — not to students, but to Frost-Brooks and union staff. The union’s move to organize charter schools is a hedge against increased school choice initiatives from Kasich and Republicans.
OEA is the Ohio affiliate of the National Education Association, which endorsed Obama’s reelection campaign in mid-2011. Coincidentally, the Frost-Brooks letter pressing for more state spending on education was published a day before Obama gave a speech pressing for a new round of federal spending on state and local governments.