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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2007

TPS rallies for Strickland education plan

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tyler Wiley, 14, and his brother Steward, 5, both students in Toledo schools, help out.
Tyler Wiley, 14, and his brother Steward, 5, both students in Toledo schools, help out.
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Toledo Public Schools parents and teachers rallied yesterday in support of Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed budget, which they say will level the playing field with charter schools.

"This is not a Republican issue; it's not a Democratic issue, it's an educational issue," said Lisa Sobecki, chairman of the district's Parent Congress.

More than 75 people attended the rally at the district's administration building in North Toledo.

"Governor Strickland has proposed that we fix this failing system. Toledo Public this year has lost almost $45 million to charters and the Ed Choice voucher program," said Ms. Sobecki, a candidate for the Toledo Board of Education.

"Many of our children have left Toledo Public Schools in search of greener fields, only to find that the field was full of mud and moles," she said.

The governor's plan calls for an end to Ohio's statewide voucher program that uses public money to pay private school tuition for children in low-scoring schools, a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, and a prohibition against charter schools being run by private, for-profit companies.

Steven Steel, school board vice president, blasted charter schools and singled out Aurora Academy in East Toledo as an example of why the charter system is failing. Aurora "has met just one state indicator out of 12 - attendance - and has a performance index of 62.1," he said. "Inexplicably, the state has awarded this failure an excellent ranking, throwing the state rankings into question."

Mr. Steel said even the worst-ranked Toledo Public elementary schools, Pickett and Nathan Hale - which are both ranked at "academic emergency" - had higher performance index scores, 68.7 and 66.3, respectively.

Aurora Academy leaders could not be reached for comment last night.

The Democratic governor's plan must get approval from the Republican-controlled House and Senate. Many Democrats have assailed charter schools as failing and sought to restore that public money to traditional public schools.

Richard Brown, who announced Sunday his candidacy for Toledo Board of Education, also was at the rally.

Charter school supporters rallied outside the Statehouse in Columbus yesterday.

Nearly 100 charter school supporters who oppose the governor's plan rallied last month at Winterfield Venture in South Toledo.

Like many charter schools in Ohio, Winterfield Venture is operated by a private, for-profit company.



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