As we work our way through the revised budget bill that came out last night one thing is painfully obvious: Kasich and Ohio’s GOP are trying to privatize Ohio’s education system at the expense of teachers, students and, ultimately, all Ohioans. Period.

And the only plausible reason I can see for the GOP’s privatization effort is pure ideological hatred of the public education system and its teachers and/or a straight up pay back to their campaign donors.

We will delve into the details of the budget in a series of upcoming posts, but for now take my word that this budget removes nearly all restrictions on for-profit charter schools and the companies that manage them in Ohio. It removes important rights from anyone who works at a charter school. It eliminates financial oversight and transparency from for-profit charters. It eliminates the need for charters to have an in-state sponsor for their schools in Ohio. And it lets schools just start up as for-profit companies that will receive millions in state funding without any obligation to actually educate their students.

Ohio’s charter school system has been, and continues to be, a complete failure for two main reasons that we’ve covered many times before. First, Charter schools cost the state 250% MORE TO OPERATE than public schools. And second, Charter school perform WAY worse than public schools. As Innovation Ohio points out: “only 21 percent of charter schools rate effective or better … Meanwhile … 72 percent of traditional school buildings and 88 percent of traditional school districts rate effective or better on the state report card.

So you have to ask yourself why, in the middle of a huge budget crisis, would a Governor and GOP-controlled legislature decide to pursue an education agenda that will ultimately end up costing more money to provide a crappier level of education to Ohio’s students?

One of the simplest answers comes from looking as where that extra money is going to go: Charter School Management Companies.

Companies like White Hat Management and it’s owner David Brennan, who operate dozens of poorly performing, financially irresponsible and downright evil charter schools throughout Ohio, will directly profit financially from the budget bill released by the Republicans yesterday.

And the guys who put this budget together absolutely know this. Kasich knows this. House Speaker Batchelder knows this. Senate President Niehaus knows this. And Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee, knows this.

Not only do they know it, but I believe THIS WAS THEIR GOAL. To take money away from public schools and to send it to for-profit charter schools.

And here’s why:

David Brennan and his immediate family members gave $431,721 to Ohio Republican politicians in the last election cycle.

And a good deal of that money went directly to the people responsible for this budget:

$46,681 John Kasich, Governor
$83,000 William Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House
$52,700 Tom Niehaus, President of the Ohio Senate
$47,500 Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee

I have a lot more to talk about on this issue, but let’s consider this our starting point for further discussion:

Large, for-profit charter school operators gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP in Ohio and the GOP returns to the favor by putting out a budget that hurts students, costs the state more money and fills the pockets of their biggest campaign contributor.

(The numbers in this piece came directly from the Ohio Secretary of State’s campaign finance website. This Spreadsheet shows the specific contributions from David Brennan and his immediate family members used in the above calculations)

  • Guest

    Nice investment. Someone has the best govt. money can buy. Is that called “pay to play”? I assume it is legal since the radical R’s always follow the law. It is too bad that children can’t vote and their parents voted to shoot themselves in the foot.

  • Guest

    Nice investment. Someone has the best govt. money can buy. Is that called “pay to play”? I assume it is legal since the radical R’s always follow the law. It is too bad that children can’t vote and their parents voted to shoot themselves in the foot.

  • Annekarima

    Keep a cool watch on that one, Joseph. It sounds like a sure way to embezzlement. Is that what Ohio wants and desires of its schools? Is that what is wants for its children’s education? Buyer – Beware.

  • stryx

    Bob Taft got driven out of politics over some free games of golf.

    Stan Aranoff’s career was flattened over $4,500 of unreported income.

    But because this money from the Family of White Hats was officially reported, well then, it’s all good.

    The Ohio Republican Party seems to have learned from the Joe Deters-Frank Gruttadauria scandal: just do it out in the open.

  • Bob

    RIP, Ohio.

  • stryx

    Oh man, I forgot about the LEHMAN part:

    Frank Gruttadauria was the branch manager for the Cleveland, Ohio office of Lehman Brothers, Inc. On February 21, 2002, the Commission filed a Complaint charging Gruttadauria and two entities controlled by him with securities fraud. Specifically, the Commission alleged that, over at least a six-year period, while he worked at Lehman Brothers and at SG Cowen Securities Corporation, Gruttadauria, 44, of Gates Mills, Ohio, stole at least $40 million in the course of defrauding more than 50 clients.

  • Victoria

    Charter Schools are one of the cornerstones of Milton Friedman’s corporatist vision. And yes, they do hate public schools. They hate paying for anything that promotes the common good if they have to contribute to it. They want to create a system where there are no public schools so they don’t have to pay for them. They want poorer people to just be slaves and live in the slums so the rich do not have to pay taxes.

  • Annekarima

    My question is, why are the powers that be appearing to attempt to turn Ohio into a poverty state? Is there an advantage in that?

  • gmild

    But remember, as Joseph reminded us, not only are charter schools funded with public dollars, they actually cost MORE money.

    This is a way to defraud the taxpayers out of more money. The model of charter schools as a statewide fix is in no way a sustainable fix. The education budget would have to increase SUBSTANTIALLY in order to fund this model.

    It’s so obvious, yet no one wants to see it. Un-freakin-believable

  • Anastasjoy

    Don’t forget to mention that Brennan OWNS Josh Mandel, lock, stock and barrel, and balls in a vise.

  • Anon

    This is pay back for the teachers and payback for their real constituents. Do people understand that the evil radical R’s don’t like anything with the word public in it? This includes them NOT being “public” servants.

  • Why doesn’t anyone say ” I DO NOT WANT MY TAX DOLLARS TO PAY INVESTORS IN FOR PROFIT SCHOOLS!” I do not want my tax dollars to go to the investors, owners, share holders, stake holders,or whatever you want these people to be called. I want my tax dollars to go to the education of the children. When you have pay for profit schools the bottom line is profit which has nothing to do with the education of a child. That money is not going to the improvement of the education of a child. Put that money in public schools where it belongs so it goes directly to the education of the children. Yes teachers get some of that money however they are directly responsible for the education of children not so with those who reap the profits in for profit charter schools. Like I said for profit schools are a business and the bottom line is profit. I do not want my tax dollars to pay for that profit. It would be better used in public education by those who have the best interest of the children their main priority .

  • GreenIris

    to keep people as docile as possible. If you are too busy trying to survive on a job (or 3) that pay subsistence wages, you don’t have the time or energy to fight. you are too busy trying just to keep your head above water. If all the jobs are indentured temp-itude, there’s nothing to compare them to. you sure don’t have the time to figure out the Grand Plan to Screw You ™

  • Fuck that. Unless “RIP” stands for “Rise, infuriated peoples!’

    To war! 🙂

  • Annekarima

    Then why stay in this state?

  • gmild

    All campaign contributions are available through the Ohio Secretary of State website.

  • I updated the post with a detailed spreadsheet showing all contributions from Brennan and his family.

  • M.B.A.

    I just got clued in about this website, terrific work here by all concerned. I am from Delaware County and we suffer the indignity and corruption of the Delaware County Republican Party and their corrupt and incompetent officeholders. Lying, unethical conduct and general diregard of their duties is the norm

    The spreadsheet “Brennan-Family-Contributions” is most informative. Over the years the Brennans gave $25,000 to Delaware’s Jon M. Peterson.

    Peterson is notorious for having a Probate Judge in Tuscarawas County report his misconduct to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Counsel. Peterson, at the f direction of a local (Delaware) minister wrote a will for a dying old woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Peterson never met or spoke to the dying woman and the will he wrote bequeathed the woman’s entire $3.5 Million estate to the Delaware minister, and his cronies with Peterson serving as the estate’s executor.

    The beneficiaries, according to witnesses, held the screaming woman down and “got” her signature on the estate documents Peterson prepared. When the judge called Peterson out on his misconduct – he quit the legal profession rather than face the OSC Disciplinary Counsel.

    The dying woman wanted her estate – all $3.5 Million, to go to the local schools. Peterson and his cohorts thought otherwise.

    If Brennan and family support(ed) Peterson and his ilk, the Ohio GOP, then they are morally bankrupt and simply financing the destruction of education in Ohio for their own gain at the hands of the corrupt and dishonest in public office in Ohio.

  • Jason

    A concept I struggle with that I will need someone to explain to me:

    Given a fixed amount of State (read: taxpayer) funding for this hypothetical, how is using said fixed State (read: taxpayer) funding to run a for-profit institution in which someone other than the State (read: taxpayers) gain the profit superior to a model in which there is no profit? Do not the students receive less education in the for-profit model, as not all of the money goes to them? How is this better?

    Obviously I’m preaching to the choir here, but I may have missed the part where these companies are concerned with the greater good of their constituents over their bottom line.

  • Yikes

    Because we know we can beat them.

  • N.F

    I too am a Delaware resident and have watched the Republican government descend into a confederacy of liars and crooks. Please don’t forget that Mr. Peterson was serving, after he was appointed by the Delaware Republicans, as the county’s auditor while he embarked on his professional, e unethical conduct in handling that will and estate in Tuscarawas County.

    Now the local GOP wants the voters to support local tax increase levies and our state Rep Brenner is backing off of Kasich’s tax raid that cuts out r local schools. Is this the GOP plan?

    Too bad the tax increase supporters include Peterson – now the county treasurer, Auditor Kaitsa whose recent stupidity caused the county to fork over more than $220,000 to settle a lawsuit he caused and Clerk of courts Antonoplos wjho has numerous federal tax liens and Ohio tax judgments against her for more than $350,000.

    It’s clear the GOP in Ohio are out to destroy eduction and tax us to poverty while doing so.

  • stryx

    Trolly needs help.

    In 2002, while Kasich was Managing Partner at the Lehman Columbus office, his counterpart in the Cleveland office Frank Gruttadauria gave $50k to the cheif of staff for Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters in return for state business. Deters et al. laundered Joe’s cut through the Hamilton County Republican Party. More here:

    and here:

    Fast forward to 2006:
    Wall Street’s giant investment house Lehman Bros. Inc. has been ordered to pay $10.4 million to swindled investors, including members of the wealthy Visconsi family, which lost some its shopping mall/real estate fortune in a massive fraud orchestrated by Cleveland-based stockbroker Frank D. Gruttadauria.

    Fastforward to 2010:
    And now, a guy[Matt Borges, Deters’ CoS] who was at the center of a public corruption case between Lehman Brothers, government contracts, and campaign donations… is in charge of soliciting donations for Governor-elect Kasich’s inaugural committee

    It may be possible that an Ohio Republican rockstar like Kasich may have been left out of all the details of the operations of Lehman and the financing of the OGOP but I doubt it. Lehman and Kasich are one and the same, regardless of what Mad King John says .

  • Annekarima

    I think the social experiment has been done. Look around but not here yet.

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