After he was elected, Governor Kasich said that the state’s teachers unions should take out a full page ad to apologize to him. He also told unions and other interest groups to “get on the bus” or he would run them over.

It didn’t take long. In the state budget, Kasich and the GOP-controlled legislature drained nearly $2 billion from public education, resulting in new levies and drastic cuts at schools across the state. The budget also accelerated the transfer of public money to private and for-profit charter schools and implanted the same controversial scheme to tie teacher pay to high stakes test scores that was contained in legislation – Senate Bill 5 – that was ultimately rejected by voters.

Donna O’Connor, Heather Bishoff and Maureen Reedy

Supporters of public education are fighting back. Fourteen teachers are running as Democrats for the statehouse this November. In Franklin County, three hotly-contested races for the Ohio House feature candidates with education backgrounds. Maureen Reedy in the 24th district and Donna O’Connor in the 21st are veteran teachers, and Heather Bishoff in the 20th district is a member of the Gahanna school board and a long-time volunteer and supporter on school levy campaigns.

These candidates hope to restore public education as a priority in Columbus. With John Kasich promising a new and improved school funding system, education experience will be vital in the upcoming state budget fight.

Today, a new progressive organization – Moving Ohio Forward – primarily funded by statewide education groups, is running a new TV ad featuring O’Connor, Bishoff and Reedy:

The ad hits GOP legislators, particular O’Connor opponent Mike Duffey, directly for their vote to cut $1.8 million from schools in the state budget, all while creating new tax breaks for oil companies and the wealthy. As we head into another cycle, we need legislators who are looking out for students, not corporations.

In part a reaction to SB5, all three Franklin County candidates are endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. And, as State Rep Nickie Antonio points out in the Plain Dealer article points out, teachers are experts in more than just education:

“I always tell people that everything I needed to know to work with my colleagues in the legislature I learned from troubled teenaged kids,” she said. “Teachers are going to understand the education issue, but they’ll understand other issues as well.”

To paraphrase Greg Mild, because public education advocates aren’t bought and paid for by corporations, they depend on grassroots support to have a chance of winning and representing us in Columbus. Everyone needs to get involved with these campaigns, or one near you — volunteer, contribute and tell your friends:

You can keep tabs on Moving Ohio Forward by liking it on Facebook.