I am reminded of the old adage not to judge a book by its cover when reviewing the Ohio House-approved “Education Funding Protection Act,” which ignores students in Catholic schools.
The legislation, House Bill 318, provides funding for public education only by delaying a state income tax rate reduction to offset an $850 million deficit. The shortfall was created when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that projected revenue from video slot machines at racetracks could not be earmarked for the state budget unless it were decided by voters.
The Catholic Conference of Ohio, which represents the bishops in matters of public policy, believes that an education protection act should include restoration of funds for Catholic school students whose academic services and funding were cut $69 million within the past year.
Catholic schools, which are chartered by the state board of education and meet Ohio's operating standards for schools, are reimbursed for complying with certain federal, state, and local requirements as defined by law.
The 185,000 Catholic and other chartered nonpublic school students receive such services as guidance counseling, nursing, and remedial reading.
The money also pays for instructional materials, computer software, and other technology.
At the heart of the matter is both a fairness and fiscal issue. In the Diocese of Toledo, where 53 Catholic schools educate 10,764 students, speech and nursing services, as well as instructional materials, have been cut.
Restoring these funds would benefit the state of Ohio. Chartered nonpublic schools save the taxpayers $2 billion in educational costs that the state would pay if these students were attending public schools. Less than 3 percent of Ohio's education budget goes toward education of students attending chartered nonpublic schools.
We urge state legislators to restore funds for students in Catholic and other chartered nonpublic schools while the legislation is pending in the Ohio Senate.
Catholic Conference of Ohio
Of course people are tired of the war in Afghanistan. It has been ongoing for eight years. But, instead of harping at President Obama, they should express disgust and anger with George W. Bush. We should have had only a one-front war, not invading Iraq, which had neither weapons of mass destruction nor any purported ties to Osama bin Laden. We should have been in and out of Afghanistan long ago.
From what I can tell, President Obama is trying to expedite an end to this war and pull our troops out. No matter how he handles this, there will be those who will continue to blame Mr. Obama, when, in fact, Mr. Bush dropped the ball and concentrated most of his efforts, money, and troops in Iraq.
Let's allow Mr. Obama a chance to clean up the mess that he inherited.