In this paper we turn to historical evidence as a beginning point for understanding the constitutional vision and values of the "thorough and efficient system of common schools" mandated by Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution. In Part II, we consider the early development of public schooling in America and the complex relationship between public education and religion. The inclusion of the educational provisions in the Constitution of 1851 represented a victory for the advocates of a non-sectarian, state operated system of schools that would encourage civic participation and avoid religious indoctrination In Part II, we address efforts made to revise the state's educational provisions through constitutional amendments in 1874 and again in 1912. In considering and rejecting various amendments to Article VI, Section 2, the delegates to these conventions reinforced and redefined the non-sectarian ethos of public education. They also added new provisions to centralize authority for the efficient administration of education and to ensure state oversight over a single system of schools. Finally, in Part IV, we attempt to place the constitutional "common school ideal" in the context of contemporary educational debates. Advocates for school choice have argued that both religious and private schools attend to the values of equality and civic participation while allowing for diversity in values, religious views, and educational approaches. The authors of this paper, however, suggest that the ethos or constitutional vision of the common school is at odds with expanding programs that support private and religious school choice


Symposium: The Ohio Constitution - Then and Now: An Examination of the Law and History of the Ohio Constitution on the Occasion of Its Bicentennial