Say what you want (and we have) about past Ohio School Board President Debe Terhar, but at least she was elected by the people of Ohio (or at least her GOP-heavy district). This year, when Terhar opted not to run, that same district elected retired art teacher, Pat Bruns.
Next week, when the State Board meets for the first time this year, they will be voting on a new President and Vice President to serve Ohioans. With 11 members on the Board elected by the people, it would seem logical that one of them would be selected to lead the group that makes many important decisions about how education laws are implemented.
Early indications are that such a logical step will not occur.
Again, while Debe Terhar may have been a pawn of the Kasich Administration, she actually won her seat in an election. This time around, it appears that the Kasich agenda will be much more direct as reports are that Tom Gunlock will be tapped by the majority of the Board to take on the important role of School Board President.
Gunlock lost a 2006 election to “retain” his seat on the Board (after being appointed by Bob Taft), ran again in 2010, but suddenly dropped out, and was then quickly appointed by Governor Kasich to an at-large seat after he and his well-connected family contributed thousands of dollars to the Kasich-Taylor campaign. Gunlock, who formerly served on the school board of four Dayton-area charter schools, was recently re-appointed by Kasich to one of the eight at-large seats that are controlled exclusively by the Governor.
The notion that the Ohio School Board, with a majority of seats occupied by individuals elected by the public, would instead be led by a political appointee is a travesty. Elected member Pat Bruns has expressed her interest in taking over the seat vacated by elected member Debe Terhar, and we strongly believe that this vital State Board, where public elections are non-partisan (ballots don’t list a party affiliation) should be led my an individual elected by the people, not by a political appointee.
We encourage you to share your thoughts with the State Board Members* who will be voting this week on a State School Board President. It is our belief that the leader of The Ohio State Board of Education should not be a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the Governor, but should instead be one elected by the people – Pat Bruns.
Updated: Bob Hagan’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Email addresses for new State Board members Pat Bruns and Roslyn Painter-Goffi are not currently available on the ODE website.