Mayor Michael Coleman’s Columbus Education Commission, which was formed with the stated mission to “examine the challenges and opportunities facing all children living within the Columbus City Schools district“, now faces its own challenge from the Ohio AFL-CIO on behalf of Columbus’s classified union members.  The Commission, whose actions have been unfavorably compared to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s “Cleveland Plan” process from last year, has been working in relative quiet up until this point.

In response to discussions about privatizing services during the Commission’s meetings, the AFL-CIO adopted a resolution supporting the local oversight of public schools and vehemently opposing any semblance of corporate takeover driven by greed.

Lois Carson, President of the Columbus City Schools’ OAPSE (classified employees union) local, is an appointed member of the Commission and strongly backs the resolution passed on Friday, February 1, opposing any form of takeover of public school district operations.  Said Carson, “For a commission formed to discuss issues with the Columbus Schools, I’d like to know when we’ll actually start talking about the real challenges the district is facing.”

The language of the official resolution is below:

Keep Corporate Hands Off Ohio Public Schools

Whereas, since the founding of our nation, we have recognized that public education is the great equalizer, ensuring that all children, no matter their race, class or gender, should have the same opportunity to achieve their full potential; and

Whereas, the foundation of a strong public education rests in local control of our school districts, a system in which elected school board members are directly accountable to parents and the community at large; and

Whereas, any attempt by politicians and corporations to take over our public schools should be viewed as a power grab motivated by greed; and

Whereas, any attempt to takeover Columbus City Schools has at its core a mission to  demonize both certified and classified workers, with an ultimate goal of slashing their wages and benefits and stripping them of their rights; and

Whereas, schools across Ohio, particularly those in urban centers such as Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Youngstown are rumored for similar takeover attempts;

Therefore, now be it resolved that the Ohio AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions strongly oppose any effort to seize control of our public schools and strip elected school board members of their duties and responsibilities to our children and the public at large, and

Be it further resolved that this resolution be circulated to elected officials and community leaders throughout Ohio urging their support for the preservation of locally-controlled public schools.

Submitted by:

JoAnn Johntony

State President, Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4)

Joe Rugola, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4)

Davida Russell, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) / Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4)

This is merely the first significant shot in what is shaping up to be a contentious series of discussions among central Ohio “leaders”.