In August 2013, the Kasich Administration announced it was hiring David Hansen for the newly created position in the Ohio Department of Education to be the “state’s first executive director for the office of quality school choice and funding. The position comes with an annual salary of $105,000.” The position was intended to improve the Ohio Department of Education’s oversight of charter schools and make them more accountable after a decade of nationally embarrassing headlines that Republican Administrations routinely ignored in favor of large campaign donations from executives of White Hat Management.
If Hansen’s name rings a bell, it could be because he’s married to Beth Hansen, Kasich’s chief-of-staff who served as Kasich’s campaign manager in ’10 and who was recently announced as his presidential campaign manager. He was also the former head of the conservative Buckeye Institute which took a far more friendlier tone about John Kasich’s policies from the right when he took over.
The decision to hire Hansen was not just controversial given his obvious connection to Kasich’s chief of staff and the $105,000 salary that came with the new position. Innovation Ohio criticized the hire noting that Hansen’s anti-public school/pro-charter school rhetoric made him a poor public watchdog over charter schools:
Hansen once wrote that “Parental choice in education offers the promise of improving public school systems by holding them accountable to market forces” while blaming teachers unions for hurting schools.
He also said that having the Ohio Department of Education run performance audits of schools was like “the fox guarding the hen house.” But a Charter School zealot like him overseeing Charter Schools is not, apparently.
Hansen also took Gov. Ted Strickland to task for wanting to get tough on Dropout Recovery schools, some of which graduate 1.2% of its children. “These schools put students back on a path to learning and future economic prosperity,” he wrote.
InnovationOhio even went so far to ask at the time (in 2013):
Is this is the guy who’s going to turn around the state’s abysmal Charter School performance? Or is he going to be the guy who makes excuses for their performance — excuses that he would ridicule public schools for making.
I think you know where I’m going here….
Fast forward to today and to the surprise of nobody, Hansen is caught trying to prevent the release of report cards for e-schools connected to White Hat Management…. because they look, really, REALLY bad. To their credit, both Republican and Democratic members of the State Board of Education aren’t having it.
In today’s must-read Cleveland Plain Dealer story, Hansen was apparently aware that the Board members wanted to ask him about his curious decision not to release the state’s “report card” on two e-charter schools, so he tried to sent two staffers to defend it either. When they could not, the Board insisted that Hansen come down from his office and personally answer questions. Things, well, didn’t go well for him there:
State school board members accused the Ohio Department of Education Tuesday of breaking state law by throwing F grades for online schools out of a key charter school evaluation this year.
That deliberate omission boosted the rating of two oversight agencies, who could now be eligible for new state perks.
Hansen, who has close ties to Gov. John Kasich, offered rushed and muddled explanations for that decision in his appearance before the board. He said he wanted to look at other, stronger schools instead, because online struggles “mask” successes elsewhere.
And Hansen said he left online schools out because they all started receiving low grades after the state changed some grading rules a few years ago. At the same time, Hansen admitted to the board that those changes made the grades more accurate.
And what was Kasich’s handpicked Superintendent Richard Ross’ reaction to this admission that his office had broken state law, a law that the Kasich Administration itself touted when he signed into law, to the benefit of a charter school sponsor?
Ross, who is Hansen’s boss, sat by him as he was questioned but offered no comment.
Ross later said, in a prepared statement, that ODE will include online school and dropout recovery school grades in future years. But he made no comment about whether he would continue leaving those grades out as evaluations continue this year.
This is just the latest in a long line of inexcusable behaviors by the Ohio Department of Education under John Kasich that shows it puts protecting charter schools ahead of protecting parents, children, and taxpayer dollars. Under Kasich, we’ve the Education Department’s spokesman send out offensive tweets mocking critics of charter schools and the Department to push for investigations against charter schools whistle blowers who caught ODE basically conducting sham investigations of charter schools.
The Ohio Department of Education under Governor Kasich has become a cesspool of corruption. As far as we know at the time of this writing, Hansen is still employed at the Ohio Department of Education. Dr. Ross has received no consequence either for his incredibly weak non-response to this revelation, either. And there can be only one explanation for it.
It’s not a bug in the system, it’s a feature.