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OEA issues call to action: Protect “thorough and efficient” provision in Ohio Constitution

OEA issues call to action: Protect "Thorough and efficient" provision in Ohio Constitution

On May 9, the nearly 1,000 delegates to the OEA Representative Assembly voted unanimously to adopt the following New Business Item:

“The OEA, working through the delegates to the Spring 2014 Representative Assembly and its affiliates, shall encourage local boards of education to adopt resolutions in support of preserving the ‘thorough and efficient’ provision of Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution and advocating for constitutional language that strengthens the fundamental right to high quality educational opportunities for every Ohio student.”

As background, the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, a body of 32 legislators and appointed members of the general public, is in the process of reviewing the state constitution and bringing recommendations for changes to the General Assembly and voters. Chad Readler, Chairperson of the subcommittee tasked with issues related to public education, has recommended language that deletes the “thorough and efficient” standard from the Ohio Constitution, arguing that the courts should not be involved in what he believes is a legislative responsibility.

The Ohio Supreme Court used the “thorough and efficient” standard as the basis for its ruling in the DeRolph vs. Ohio decisions that declared Ohio’s system of school funding unconstitutional four times. Without this language, there would be no means for checks and balances to ensure that the General Assembly is meeting its obligations to provide for an equitable and adequate system of public schools for all of Ohio’s students.

One of the attorneys in the DeRolph case has stated that without the “thorough and efficient” provision in the state constitution, “the right to any level of public education for children in Ohio would disappear. Public education would exist, if at all, at the whim of the legislature.”

To follow up on the action of the Representative Assembly, we are asking you to please contact members of your local board of education and encourage them to adopt the resolution.  We hope to see every local board of education in the State of Ohio adopt the resolution by the end of this school year.

In addition to promoting the adoption of this board resolution, the OEA asks that you share the results of your efforts. Please email Government Relations staff at govtsrv@ohea.org to let us know when your local board of education has taken action on this recommendation.

A detailed background and history of DeRolph v. State of Ohio that includes a chronology and all briefs and decisions is available online at http://bit.ly/derolph.

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