To the editor:

Perry County Common Pleas Judge Linton Lewis ruled in the 1994 DeRolph school funding decision, that education is a fundamental right.

On Page 469 of his decision, Judge Lewis stated: “In light of our founding fathers’ constitutional guarantees and the extreme importance of education in today’s society, this court finds education to be a fundamental right guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution.”

The Ohio Supreme Court in the March 24, 1997 DeRolph decision, did not rule on the fundamental right issue – nor did the subsequent three decisions address the matter.

However, it would seem appropriate and efficacious for the Ohio General Assembly to make a declaration of the fundamentality of public education while enacting a new school funding system that is designed to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools.

A thoughtful review of Ohio’s constitutional provisions for public schools (Article I §7 and Article VI §2, §3 and §4) will lead to the conclusion that education has been elevated to a fundamental right by the sovereign people of Ohio.

The declaration that education is a fundamental right highlights the critical importance of an equitable and adequate system of public schools.

This declaration will help ensure equitable and adequate educational opportunities in every area of the state.

William L. Phillis
Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding