When you were a kid, did you ever line up dominoes around the table so that you could knock the first one down and then watch the rest fall? Well in Springboro, our school board appears to view Ohio’s public school system as a long line of dominoes that begins in our community. I don’t believe they feel the primary reason they were elected was to ensure the education of our children, but rather to implement a radical political agenda. I believe they want to dismantle our school district and knock over the domino. When Springboro, a successful, affluent district falls, they will watch as 610 other dominoes, otherwise known as the public school system, fall behind it.
How does the Springboro school board want to go about toppling the district? It appears that their plan is to knock the domino over under the guise of serving our gifted children through the introduction of a charter school into our community. Rather than investing dollars in our already strong, highly innovative gifted program, they want to create a charter school for gifted children. This will enable them to shift money away from the district, reduce the number of teachers, cut the public gifted program, produce a charter school with high test scores, lower the test scores of the district, and make the argument that our public school system is not worth funding. They will likely propose levies that fail to cover the costs of the district, claim that charter schools will generate revenue for our community, and ultimately attempt to force the hand of the community to dismantle a public school system that is arguably its greatest asset.
The school board has hired a consultant (The Callender Group) to do an impartial study of our community and our community’s need for a charter school. However, this consulting group specializes in setting up and marketing charter schools and is headed by Jamie Callender – a former Chairman of the Ohio House Education Committee who made it clear that he was morally opposed to property taxes when I spoke with him recently – which brings the idea of impartiality into question. The consulting firm has an obvious vested interest in finding a reason to say yes there is a need, and in addition they are being paid between $5,000 and $15,000 of taxpayer money just to perform the study. It is like asking the fox to audit the hen house to see if the chickens should continue to be used for eggs or served up for dinner. This is not about a local charter school. This is about dismantling public education.
Nobody likes to pay taxes, but if we truly value education we have to pay for it somehow. Everyone is entitled to have their own political views, but people who have a moral opposition to the way in which schools are funded should make that argument in Columbus, not by using the children of our community as pawns in a political game. What I want for my tax dollars is accountability, or stated differently – I want to know that my money is being used wisely. Springboro currently has the lowest expenditure per pupil in the region and in the top three districts in the Dayton region. This indicates to me that we are spending the least and getting the most for our money. Thus we have an extremely efficient and effective system of education in Springboro. Logic would dictate that you would build upon such a system, but that is not the direction our board has chosen. Instead they perpetuate a myth that our schools are failing in order to accomplish political gain.
In spite of the fact that we have earned an “Excellent with Distinction” ranking for multiple years running, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that our expenditure per pupil is the lowest in the region, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that our district is ranked in the top 3 in the region based on data as was published in the Dayton Business Journal, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that our test scores have continued to rise while class size has increased, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that we have an attendance rate of 97 percent, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that our schools met 26 out of 26 indicators set forth by the State, they perpetuate the myth. In spite of the fact that our ACT and SAT scores are on par with the top district in the region, they perpetuate the myth. At a time when we should be acknowledging the excellent results of our teachers and students, they perpetuate the myth.
Why are they doing so? Because, perpetuating the myth manufactures a crisis situation, and such a situation often calls for radical action. Perpetuating the myth is the sheep costume that disguises the wolf. Perpetuating the myth keeps people from getting involved. Perpetuating the myth squashes civic pride. Perpetuating the myth helps levies fail, builds public discontent, forces talented employees to leave, and uses fear to justify the need for extreme actions. Perpetuating the myth is the lever needed to tip the domino – the first domino. If it falls, others will follow.
The lever is in place. Force is being applied. The domino is beginning to tip. The question is will people push back and stop it from falling or will they do nothing and watch them all fall down.
The important thing to remember is this. It’s not dominos that we are talking about. It’s our children.
(This piece was submitted by Springboro parent David Bowman; all opinions are his and do not necessarily reflect those held by Dayton Most Metro or its other contributors – read more on his blog at DavidEBowman.com.
A Worthy Investment – David Bowman
A Tale of Two Cities – David Bowman
Springboro Schools: Dare to Compare – David Bowman
WASTE WATCH: Springboro Exploring Charter School – WRGT-TV Fox 45 News
Springboro school board pursues charter school – Dayton Daily News