Former Ohio Department of Education charter school consultant, Denis Smith, weighs-in on the recent intimidation tactics by certain state officials.
Denis Smith gave his permission to reproduce the attached article. This article appeared in the July 7 Columbus Dispatch.
Bullying, Hypocrisy and Amnesia all part of Republican war on education| Opinion
‘Ohioans are shocked, shocked to learn that bullying, thuggery, and intimidation are part of the Republican repertoire. But that is only part of their modus operandi,’
Denis Smith
Guest Columnist
When it comes to the behavior of Senate President Matt Huffman and Auditor Keith Faber requesting reports from school districts about their spending in the lawsuit challenging the state’s use of public funds to support private and religious schools through vouchers, it’s just the latest chapter of the Republican war against public education.
In this case, the elements of bullying, hypocrisy, and amnesia have served to highlight the GOP’s despicable behavior.
But with school districts fighting back, Republicans have kicked in their defensive mode.
The Dispatch reported this reaction from the auditor’s office:
“Auditor Faber is doing his job and attempting to shed light on and provide a level of transparency about the use of taxpayer money.”
So, Huffman and Faber are concerned about oversight and transparency with the use of public funds expended by public school districts, right?
What bullying. What hypocrisy. What amnesia.
Can anyone remember key members of the Republican legislative leadership worried about the profligate spending by publicly funded charter schools during their quarter-century checkered history? Does anyone remember previous state auditors and legislative leaders being concerned about the lack of transparency by privately managed charter schools in Ohio and elsewhere using public funds to pay exorbitant salaries to their administrators, exorbitant rent paid to the management companies who own the buildings they occupy, and countless other examples of the flagrant abuse of public funds?
In fact, of all the charter school corruption and mismanagement of public funds observed over their history in Ohio, only the notorious Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) gained a serious level of attention from Republican pols.
After it consumed more than $1,000,000,000 in public funds in 17 years, ECOT was way too notorious to ignore.
You read that right. One billion dollars.
But in these days of open warfare waged against public education by Republicans, their reservoir of bullying, hypocrisy, and amnesia is in clear view with Faber’s stunt in asking for information from districts active in the anti-voucher lawsuit, when such financial reporting has always been available. Even during the years of the DeRolph lawsuit over school funding, the Ohio Auditor never questioned school district spending about litigation costs against the state.
That was then.
The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, an organization also involved in the litigation, had this to say about the state auditor’s stunt: This “survey” is a blatant attempt to intimidate school leaders, which is a violation of Section 2921.03, ORC.
Ohioans are shocked, shocked to learn that bullying, thuggery, and intimidation are part of the Republican repertoire. But that is only part of their modus operandi.
In their fervor to attack and intimidate public education while performing a charade under the name of oversight by requiring spending reports related to the voucher lawsuit, Huffman, Faber, and their allies are also changing the subject away from the one entity that is in real need of increased oversight related to the expenditure of public funds. That is the charter school industry itself.
2019 review of charter school misdeeds contained this passage which should be read by every member of the Ohio legislature promoting educational vouchers:
“Charter schools regularly sign contracts with little oversight, shuffle money between subsidiaries, and cut corners that would never fly in the real world of business or traditional public schools – at least not if the business wanted to stay out of bankruptcy and school officials out of jail.”
On behalf of public education, I would like to thank Senate President Matt Huffman and Auditor of State Keith Faber for their transparent behavior in providing the clearest example of hypocrisy, amnesia, intimidation and bullying by Republicans.
All of these traits are in their DNA. They call this governance.
Denis Smith is a retired school administrator and a former consultant in the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office. He is a board member of Public Education Partners.
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