John Kasich is a master of making jokes at other people’s expense. His reputation of delivering snide, snarky comments, after nearly 40 years as a performance politician, is legend.
One joke making news Monday is the expectation that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will endorse Gov. Kasich for president. This is funny only if backward Alabama, where Republicans dominate state politics even more than in Ohio, is deemed a state whose policies should be bellwethers for the nation. The pending endorsement is framed as an example of Gov. Kasich’s strength stretching “beyond his home state and New Hampshire, and beyond moderate Republicans.”
One joke that isn’t funny and that Gov. Kasich won’t laugh at is Ohio’s education record on for-profit charter schools, which now enroll a record 120,000 students and siphon off billions from better performing public schools.
Various sources have ridiculed the Buckeye State under Gov. Kasich for its ideologically driven partisan plan to dole out billions to for-profit charter schools in spite of state report cards showing just how bad they perform when compared to their public school cousins. Ohio public schools and unionized teachers have long been top targets for Kasich and his for-profit education sponsors and backers, who count on sizable campaign donations to keep the ax of responsibility from falling on them and their business-model schools.
Kasich: “That’s Kind Of The End Of It”
Separate from the generally poor performance of Ohio charter schools, which remains a big thorn in Gov. Kasich’s side as he runs for president, is the potentially criminal conduct of the husband of Gov. Kasich’s chief of staff, Beth Hansen, who now serves as the governor’s presidential campaign manager. David Hansen could find himself in legal cross-hairs for falsifying charter school data to make the industry and its sponsors look less terrible on paper, even when reality shows billions in tax payer dollars taken away from public schools has been squandered by Ohio’s charters, which critics argue should be regulated to the same degree public schools have been forced by the Kasich Administration to dance to the tune orchestrated by he and like-minded hard-right state lawmakers.
One report about the scrubbing said Hansen didn’t include online schools or dropout recovery schools because he thought it was unfair to for-profit charter school sponsors.
Hansen did similar data scrubbing before Gov. Kasich hired him as school choice director at more than $100,000 per year in salary. When news broke on Hansen’s allegedly illegal activity, he resigned. Kasich has called a request by seven members of the state school board to investigate Hansen’s conduct at the Ohio Department of Education “political” as he tries to make the troubling issue go away.
“I mean, the guy is gone. He’s gone. We don’t tolerate any sort of not open and direct communication about charter schools, and everybody gets it. So that’s kind of the end of it,” Kasich instructed media.
New Hampshire reporters who only know Gov. Kasich from what others have written about him are, not surprisingly, clueless about his real record on education. Innovation Ohio, a progressive policy think-tank group, knows the score and its not all that good.
In the last 5 years, Ohio has doubled down on tax cuts that mostly benefit those at the top while funding for Ohio’s schools has flat lined, Terra Goodnight, an IO researcher wrote.
Four out of ten school districts have less state funding now than they did before Kasich, Goodnight found, along with local taxpayers making up the difference between what former Gov. Ted Strickland gave them and what Gov. Kasich gives them.
“Direct funding to schools hasn’t kept pace with inflation, which has increased the reliance on local property taxes to pay for schools. Local property taxpayers are paying more for schools now than at any point in Ohio history,” Goodnight notes.
Gov. Kasich has “greatly expanded Ohio’s investment in privately run education, despite overwhelming evidence that the state’s current regime doesn’t work,” she wrote, adding, “Ohio’s charter sector is a national joke, while spending on school vouchers has more than doubled. The “Youngstown Takeover” is Kasich’s latest effort to “reform” an urban school district, which typically means more school privatization.” Ohio’s governor has pushed policies that, again and again, make it easier for schools to cut teachers’ pay while forcing down more and more state mandates.
Lebron Pays College Costs
Ohio native son and greatest living basketball player in the world, LeBron James, announced he has partnered with the University of Akron to provide free, guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ “I Promise” program who qualify, a Columbus newspaper reported. James’ scholarship will cover $9,500 annually in tuition and the university’s general service fees.
When Lebron James left Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat, where he won two NBA championship rings, John Kasich, who was running for governor at the time, snarked on James departure as if he were a traitor.
After the Fox News debate in Cleveland, Gov. Kasich was caught telling a Fox News talk show host that he’s “trying to take credit” for Lebron’s return to Ohio.
For James, the scholarship idea is part of his giving back mentality. “It’s the reason I do what I do. These students have big dreams, and I’m happy to do everything I can to help them get there,” he said, according to this report. King James, as he’s called, said kids that qualify for his tuition help will have to earn it. “I’m excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.,” James said.