Ohio has spent more than a decade growing charter schools by essentially robbing public schools of their funding base while not holding the often poorly performing charters to the same rigorous education standards as public schools. And a new, energized gallery of State Board of Education members drew lines in the sand Friday, setting up flash points between them and board members who owe their allegiance to Gov. John Kasich, a big supporter of the charter school movement.
State Board of Education Members Pat Bruns, Michael Collins, Stephanie Dodd, Bob Hagan, Ann Jacobs, Mary Rose Oakar, and Roslyn Painter-Goffi announced their agenda and areas of focus for the upcoming year today. The group committed to improving public education in Ohio through less reliance on testing and stronger charter school accountability, as well as advocating for a fairer system of school funding, spokesman for the group Stephanie Dodd said in a media release.
High on the group’s list will be running pro-public education group supporters Pat Bruns for State Board of Education President and Michael Collins for Vice President. Bruns will take on Kasich appointee Tom Gunlock, who could if elected replace the board’s departing and controversial president Debe Terhar. Board incumbent Mr. Collins is take on Ron Rudduck for the board’s VP slot.
“Our state needs to be a pro-active public education leader and provide the resources necessary to give all students the opportunity to thrive and succeed, ” Bruns said in prepared remarks. Reminding Ohioans that Buckeye State teachers, administrators and staff are bright, dedicated and enthusiastic professionals focused on growing the young minds of Ohio, Bruns criticized the state’s current use of high stakes tests. “The overuse of high stakes tests in our state stifles creativity in our classrooms and puts undue pressure on teachers and staff to teach to a test rather than to treat students as individuals, giving them the tools they will need to reach their potential.” she said.
Collins has designs to protect taxpayer investments in charter schools. “Students, parents and taxpayers expect charter schools to provide a quality education and a return on the investment of tax dollars,” he said, adding, “Anytime those expectations are not met, we all lose, and those operators who continue to fail Ohio ought to be held accountable and taken out of the system.”
These members also said they want the State Board of Education to take a more active role in advocating for a fairer system of funding Ohio’s public schools. “For too long, the State Board of Education has been silent on what we believe is still an unconstitutional system of school funding,” Dodd said. “We need to find our voice again. Our state constitution recognizes the importance of a ‘thorough and efficient system’ of public schools throughout Ohio and Ohio’s constitution also establishes the State Board of Education,” she said, noting, “We need to exercise our responsibility to be advocates for all of Ohio’s 1.6 million schoolchildren.”
The pro-public education group wants an inclusive approach to the decisions made by the State Board of Education as well as encouragement to open discussion to different viewpoints. They are asking for fellow board members to join their call to support public education in the state of Ohio.
Gov. Kasich is no fan of public school teachers and their union, The Ohio Education Association. His rough relationship has been central to his political makeup for decades, and was on full display when he first ran for governor in 2010. The now twice elected governor has defended spending billions on charters over the years, even though they perform poorly. Saying he “believes in charter schools,” Gov. Kasich has stacked the state board with pro-charter allies. But this new group, based on their message from today, will spice up state board meetings like never before.