Linking Jobs and School Levies

By John Patterson On Tuesday, August 7th, thirty-two school districts across the state of Ohio asked voters to approve of some form of tax increase to support public schools. Four of those districts can be found within the borders of the new 99th state legislative district. Chardon, Geneva, Jefferson, and Lakeside all asked voters for increased revenue. All four levies failed. The tragedy of the whole process is two-fold: that four school districts felt compelled to hold special elections in the first place at a dear cost to each district; and that opposition to those levies was quite evident and well-organized. School districts, on occasion, are moved to hold special elections when faced with an emergency. But when four school districts within the 99th, (or 1/8 of all state school issues) are on the ballot simultaneously, it is evident that we are mired in a time of crisis. Additionally, at a time when schools and the public they serve ought to be coalescing around a positive spirit to examine alternative approaches to deal with state funding cuts, hefty levies have divided communities and families further fraying the social and economic fabric which binds us together. Columbus has failed us. The governor and those in the state legislature who voted for the draconian cuts have failed us. In the absence of leadership, local school districts attempted to tackle their financial problems on their own. This too has proven to be fruitless. Even more disturbing are predictions released this week by The Columbus Dispatch which indicate that there will be a budget surplus of $400 million by next June. That figure does NOT count the half a billion dollars that Governor Kasich expects from JobsOhio. Yet Kasich and his supporters have not indicated that ANY of this surplus will be earmarked for public education. Clearly leadership is desperately needed in this time of crisis. Yet no leadership is forthcoming from either the governor or those who support him in the legislature. The burden will continue to be borne by local governments. Education is important now and for our future. For if the 99th district is to recover and thrive once more, an educated work force is, and will be, a critical component to that effort.

The issue of education is larger than tax increases and school levies. Education allows each individual to learn and "grow" into vocations that serve society. Public education affords equal opportunities for all, regardless of economic standing, to reach for their piece of the American dream. Further, in our hearts we humans find affirmation in meaningful employment. We define ourselves by our work. Education helps us to explore different avenues so as to ultimately discover our calling and, with it, our contribution to the greater whole. We feel better about ourselves. We are more productive in our work. And this attitude, in the aggregate and over time, shifts attitudes in societies. In short, we will believe again and our behavior will reflect that belief. It is time for this corner of the state to believe once more in our future as we once did. By failing to fund education properly then, the state legislature has mistakenly balanced its budget by shortchanging our children of the present while mortgaging the collective prosperity of the future. Opportunities are thwarted for our children. So ultimately it IS about jobs. It has always been about jobs. The very jobs we seek are contingent upon a well-trained workforce. To fall short now is to deny not only our children ample opportunities, but it also denies our region its rightful economic recovery. Simply stated, education = jobs. We, the citizens of the 99th district, must work together and work diligently to solve the problem of adequate and equitable school funding. The task ahead is not easy and there are no shortcuts. Our children need us and we need each other to move forward out of the past shadows of doubt and despair and into a renewed period of economic well-being. There are viable funding options to examine and in the very near future these will be rolled out for proper and thoughtful debate. The time for new leadership with a vision for the future is upon us. The time is now, the choice is clear. Remember in November. John Patterson Candidate for Ohio House 99th District

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