Posted on Fri, Apr. 22, 2005 - Letters to the Editor. Akron Beacon Journal

Ohio's education crisis
What will it take for Ohio's parents, let alone the rest of its residents, to respond to the daily reminders of the dismantling of public education in this state? Several stories published March 13 enlightened readers about this ever-growing crisis. Is anyone listening?

First, there is the $67 million in federal aid for special-needs children that we are losing because our state cannot find ways to comply with regulations regarding this Medicaid money (``School districts in region sue state''). While the money is gone, the mandates for public school districts to provide services for these children are not.

Second, several school districts are bribing children with raffles and movies to attend school all week during the administration of the Ohio Graduation Test and to do their best to pass it so that penalties for a poor district report card can be averted (``Students, schools have lot at stake in new test''). Some schools are bringing in food to ensure that students will have had a hearty breakfast.

Why is it that these tactics are unnecessary throughout the regular school year, only during these high-stakes tests? Could it be students sense these tests are not ``playing fair''? (Watch fourth-grade students sit silently for almost 2 ½ hours taking their reading achievement test and tell them that's a fair way to assess them.)

Third, we have been reminded yet again by Associate Editor Michael Douglas (``Where will Ohio stand in 2012?'') that since 1996, state funding to higher education in Ohio has decreased by 14 percent (even as it has increased for state prisons by 31 percent).

I have been in public education for 33 years and have never seen such questionable demands being made of educators by those who aren't in the classroom. These demands come with severe penalties, yet they also come without the necessary funding to implement successfully. Why are schools that have been lauded as success stories suddenly now being warned that they are unfit?

And why now do all children have to achieve at the same level on the same day in all areas? What happened to our celebration of America's diversity? Does this seem right?

This standardization of human beings has been in the works for several years now. When will common sense prevail? Who will stand up for our children? I pray that our citizens will let their voices be heard before the total dismantling of our public schools, our bastions for preserving our democracy.
(Teacher Living in) Stow