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May 5, 2014

In a new attack on public education and fair funding for schools, Ohio is considering a proposal to delete the right to education from its state constitution. Kansas has seen similar proposals, and other states likely will as well. The U.S. insisted that territories wanting to become states include education in their constitutions because self-government requires educated citizens.

"Through the vehicle of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Committee,  influential and powerful school privatization people are trying to remove the words "Thorough and Efficient" from the Ohio Constitution," writes Dick Murray, Executive Director of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS).

In response to the efforts to weaken the constitution, Boards of Education across the state are passing a resolution that "strongly opposes the removal of the words 'thorough and efficient' from Article VI, section 2 of the Ohio Constitution, and [resolves] that the thorough and efficient clause be strengthened by adding a provision that each Ohio student shall have the fundamental right to high quality educational opportunities ... ."

The following letter from William Phillis, Executive Director of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition, explains the situation in more detail:

"'Thorough and Efficient System of Common Schools': A right given Ohio schoolchildren that must be protected by all citizens.'

One hundred sixty-years ago, Ohioans voted to give schoolchildren the right to a thorough and efficient system of common schools [by passing the proposed constitution]. Ohio citizens must be alerted to the potential that this right embedded in the Ohio Constitution (Article VI, section 2), is under assault. This right is to Ohio schoolchildren what the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution is to the citizens of the United States. This right is as precious as freedom of religion, right to assemble, etc. There are those in our midst that wish to take this right away. Particularly, there are those on the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission that would do so. Perhaps they are just not aware of the damage that would accrue from such action.

Charter school advocates are most certainly behind the removal of this right. Shameful! Persons serving on the Commission should be debating how to strengthen the right of children to high quality educational opportunities. They should be elevating the 'T & E' standard by adding language that guarantees schoolchildren the fundamental right to a high quality public education.

While the language of what became Article VI, section 2 of the Ohio Constitution was debated during the 1850-1851 Constitutional Convention, Delegate Archbold said he wanted a system 'as perfect as could be devised.' (2 Debates at 698)

'Thorough' was defined by the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as: 'literally, passing through or to the end: hence, complete; perfect.' 'Efficient' was defined by the same dictionary as: 'causing effects; producing; that causes anything to be what it is. The efficient cause is that which produces; the final cause is that which is produced.'

Those words defined, and still define the system as one of perfection to which children should have a fundamental right. The Commission should just do it---add [the guarantee of a] fundamental right to make Article VI, section 2 even more explicit."

Related Stories:
What's the Matter with Kansas' Schools
Plaintiffs Win in Kansas, State Response May Create Crisis
Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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