We’ve been so busy pointing out the damaging effects of House Bill 136 that we have neglected to recognize the awards being distributed by School Choice Ohio Inc., a vocal proponent of school vouchers.

On November 2, State Senator Kevin Bacon, received a School Choice Leadership award for being “instrumental in supporting the Scholarship during the state budget process.”

Kevin Bacon may be better known to Ohioans as the chair of the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee that originally passed Senate Bill 5 via the removal of Senator Bill Seitz.

On November 8, School Choice Ohio Inc. presented State Senator Peggy Lehner with another Leadership Award in “recognition of her commitment to advancing the principles of school choice in the state of Ohio.”  To best explain the power that the state senator wields as the education representative on the Senate’s Finance committee,  Lehner helped get the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program passed into law as a part of the state budget, after five years of parents of students with special needs advocating for this program.

Coincidentally, Lehner is also the chair of the Senate’s Education Committee who will hear HB 136 if it ever passes a House floor vote.  It was a shrewd move for School Choice Ohio Inc. to recognize such a needed supporter.  Lehner’s not too keen on the bill at the moment.  According the Dayton Daily News:

“I have received far more letters on this issue from school districts than I did during the entire six months of Issue 2,” said Lehner, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

Lehner said the measure, sponsored by Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, isn’t likely to make it to the Senate in its current form as some changes are being made to it.

“The current rendition of it is certainly causing a great deal of concern among school districts, and I think rightfully so,” she said.

And most importantly and least surprisingly, House Bill 136 sponsor Matt Huffman.  School Choice Ohio Inc. honored Huffman on September 16 as a “School Choice Champion.”   The non-profit organization presented Huffman “with a seedling tree to represent the seeds of hope he is planting for thousands of families across Ohio.”  According to School Choice Ohio Inc.,  Representative Huffman is the “first legislator to receive this prestigious award.”  SCO Inc. does not have a published list of past winners, so we are unable to report on Huffman’s peers in receiving one of the non-profit corporation’s highest honors.

It seems these three are also garnering national recognition for their support of the expansion of vouchers in Ohio.

“This is the year of growth for school choice, and Ohio has just joined the bumper crop of states that have decided to make educational choice a centerpiece of education reform,” said Robert C. Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the nation’s leading advocate for school choice. “The commitment of Gov. Kasich and the support of Rep. Matt Huffman and Senators Kevin Bacon and Peggy Lehner is inspiring.”

So finally, the element beyond school vouchers that connects these three School Choice Ohio Inc. honorees – Governor John Kasich. All bad legislation in Ohio leads back to him these days.  If only we could work House Speaker Batchelder in here somewhere….

Let’s make sure that the elected leaders who took a stand for school choice hear a big THANK YOU from us. Please take a moment today to contact champions like Governor Kasich, Senator Kevin Bacon, Rep. Matt Huffman, Senator Peggy Lehner, and Speaker Bill Batchelder to thank them for making new options available to kids.

(School Choice Ohio Inc. blog, 7/5/2011)

That last one may have been gratuitous, but we included it just in case you feared Kasich & Batchelder had no connection to the expansion of school vouchers and HB 136.

So while the talk at this point may be that the bill doesn’t have the votes to get to the House floor, we should be wary of such rumors.  And know that if HB 136 does make it to a floor vote, the support of Batchelder will virtually ensure its passage.  From there, the advocacy of Senator Lehner will surely move it to quick passage in the Senate.

Be very afraid of this scenario and keep the pressure on your Representative.  This is merely another step in the Ohio GOP’s mission to destroy public education in Ohio.