How Recent Education Reforms Undermine Local School Governance


Local control has historically been a prominent principle in education policymaking and governance. Culminating with the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), however, the politics of education have been nationalized to an unprecedented degree, and local control has all but disappeared as a principle framing education policymaking.

This brief examines what the eclipse of local control means for our democracy. It distinguishes two dimensions of democracy that are at issue—democratic policymaking and democratic education—and concludes that the effect of NCLB has been to frustrate our democracy along both of these dimensions.

Pb Localcontrol

A decade-long crisis of democracy

We highlighted that despite Ohio voters in the aggregate preferring Democrats over Republicans in the 2012 election, the Republicans will hold a probable super majority 60-39 as a consequence of extreme partisan gerrymandering. The Dispatch was prompted by this result to produce an article about redistricting

Issue 2 is dead, buried deep by Ohio voters last week.

But over and over again, opponents of the redistricting plan, be they Republicans or editorial-page writers, noted that their opposition was not based on the belief that the current system of drawing legislative and congressional districts is good.

In fact, most acknowledged that it remains badly in need of an overhaul.

But if was this paragraph in the article that prompted us to take an even deeper look

Republicans now control 75 percent of the U.S. House seats and nearly two-thirds of the legislative seats in a state that has leaned Republican but is a key battleground state

We analyzed Ohio House of Representative results for each of the past 6 election cycles. By aggregating the votes for Democrats and Republicans in contested races we found a systematic, and extreme disenfranchising of Democratic representation in Ohio

Year Democratic Republican D Seats R Seats
2012 2,418,815 2,362,310 39 60
2010 1,447,949 1,696,064 40 59
2008 2,296,678 1,982,281 53 46
2006 1,832,548 1,605,801 46 53
2004 1,869,051 2,036,398 38 60
2002 1,243,671 1,364,656 36 63
Total 11,108,712 11,047,510

Based upon the preferences of voters, Democrats should have controlledthe General assemblies after the 2012, and 2006 elections - but were denied by partisan gerrymandering. Furthermore, the majorities that Republicans did earn in all of their successful years should have been much, much smaller - and never reacher super majority status.

Indeed when one looks at the sum total of votes in contest races over the past decade, rather than being center right, the results indicate a center to center left leaning electorate.

It is simply not possible to conclude that Ohioans have been legitimately represented in the 21st century by their preferred choices, either in actuality or in scope. We have a crisis of democracy in Ohio.

Union members spotlight - day 1

When we predicted that the biggest fight over SB5 was still ahead, little did we think that almost 1 in 3 general assembly districts being contested would have candidates with union memberships, including 14 teachers. With just a week to go before the 2012 primary election on March 6th, we thought we would highlight a group of those individuals each day of the week.

It should be noted that the districts listed below are new as a consequence of the legislative redistricting process that happened last year.

House District 7 - Matt Patten (D)
House District 7 - Matt Patten
Matt Patten represented the former 18th District from 2009 to 2011, and is affiliated with Laborers. You can learn more about Matt, here. He is in an uncontested primary and will face current state Rep Mike Dovilla in November. Rep. Dovilla voted for both SB5 and the budget HB153 which contained SB5 like provisions while simultaneously cutting billions from education funding.

House District 16 - Todd Laveck (D)
House District 16 - Todd Laveck
Todd Laveck is an OFT member, and Cleveland school teacher. He is running in a contested primary, and has garnered the following endorsements: Ohio Education Association, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Northern Ohio Fire Fighters Association, Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, Teamsters Local 407, Cleveland Teachers Union Local 279, Cleveland Custodians Union Local 777, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Patton, State Senator Michael Skindell, State Representative Nickie Antonio, State Representative Mike Foley, State Representative Kenny Yuko, Former State Representative Jennifier Brady, Fairview Park Democratic Club, Former North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O'Grady.

You can find out more about Todd, here. If he is successful in winning the March 6th primary, he will face incumbent Nan Baker who also voted against the middle class and schools, voting for SB5 and HB153.

House District 20 - Marco Miller (D)
House District 20 - Marco Miller
Marco Miller is a retired member of IAFF (firefighters) having served 25 years in the Columbus Division of Fire. You can find out more about Marco, here. He too is running in a contested primary. Marco is running in a contest primary to replace incumbent Nancy Garland.

He has the following list of endorsements: Franklin County Democratic Party, Greater Columbus/Franklin County United Auto Workers- CAP Council, Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), Plumbers and Pipefitters, Sheet Metal Workers, Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio, Immigrant Citizens of Ohio PAC, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks, Franklin County Commission John O’Grady, Franklin County Clerk of Courts Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, Franklin County Municipal Clerk of Courts Lori Tyack, Columbus City Council Member Hearcel Craig, Columbus City Councilman Zach Klein, Columbus City Councilwoman Eileen Paley, Madison Township Trustee Edward Dildine, Whitehall City Councilwoman Karen Conison, Whitehall City Council President Jim Graham, Whitehall City Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte, Whitehall City Auditor Dan Miller, State Representative Teresa Fedor, Franklin County Recorder Candidate Terry Brown, Past Franklin County Democratic Party Chairwoman Fran Ryan, Past Franklin County Democratic Party Chairman Denny White

House District 21 - Donna O'Connor (D)
House District 21 - Donna O'Connor
Donna O'Connor is a member of OEA and a special education teacher in Dublin. She is endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party, the Ohio Education Association and Emily's List. if successful in her primary she will face incumbent Rep. Duffy whose votes for SB5 and HB153 also harmed the middle class. You can find out more about Donna, here.

District 24 - Maureen Reedy (D)
District 24 - Maureen Reedy
Maureen Reedy is also a member of OEA. She was Teacher of the Year for the Upper Arlington City School District in 2001 and the Ohio Teacher of the Year in 2002. Maureen is uncontested on the March 6th ballot and will face Stephanie Kunze in november in a contest to replace incumbent Ted Celeste who is running for Senate District 3.

You can learn more about Maureen, here.

Tomorrow we will take a look at another 5 union members running for the Ohio General Assembly.

Only right wing partisans endorse SB5

The Pro SB5 campaign "BetterOhio" is touting an endorsement today, that of the NFIB. The NFIB is a right wing business group that represents a tiny fraction of small businesses in the state (approximately 2.5%), so its support comes as no surprise.

Indeed in 2010 that NFIB contributed $10,000 to the Kasich for Governor campaign, and in 2006 it contributed $7,500 to the Ken Blackwell campaign - a candidate few argued was so extreme as to lie well outside of the mainstream.

The NFIB is so partisan that in the last 10 years (according to it has contributed just $2,550.00 to Democratic candidates while an astonishing $242,123.81 has been contributed to Republicans. 99% of NFIB political contributions over the last decade have gone to Republican party candidates, making the NFIB one of the most partisan organizations in the state and the country.

Below is that list of contributions the NFIB has made

NFIB Contributions

HEre at Join the Future we continue to maintain that repealing SB5 with a NO vote on issue 2 is personal not partisan. The anti worker forces however continue to be made up entirely and exclusively from the Republican party establishment.

A litmus test tomorrow in Wisconsin

Tomorrow is a big day in the test of working people vs. extreme politicians. In Wisconsin an election will be held to allow voters a say on recalling 6 Republican State Senators who voted for an SB5 like bill. Unlike Ohio, Wisconsin doesn't have the ability repeal legislation, instead they provide the voters a chance to recall their legislators.

So worried are the GOP over this recall effort they even resorted to running "fake Democrats" in a primary election a few weeks ago. Needless to say voters saw through this scam and every fake candidate was handily beaten. But these extremist lawmakers have a right to be worried after building an all too familiar extremist record in short order

Further, with the Republican-contrived primaries over (they recruited fellow Republicans to run against Democrats in order to delay and sow considerable confusion about recall process), the public can now focus on clear-cut choices between Democratic candidates with demonstrated followings and Republican senators whose reputations have been tarnished.

The Republican baggage includes:

  • their extraordinary anti-union votes,
  • their support for an exceptionally punitive budget toward local public education and services, and
  • their collaboration with the most dictatorial procedures and anti-democratic legislation that the Wisconsin Legislature has witnessed in more than a century.

MotherJones provides us a good synopsis of the 6 elections being held tomorrow. 2 are looking good for the Democrats, 3 are toss ups and one is looking to be a GOP hold. The Democrats would need to win 3 of the 6 to retake control of the Wisconsin State Senate and end Gov. Walkers middle class damaging agenda.

This election will also give us one of our first indicators of the kind of energy and voter turnout we can expect in Ohio around Issue 2, in the fall as voters here look to repeal similar extreme legislation.

UPDATED: SB5 Help Wanted

We Are Ohio has so many SB5 petition books coming in, it's proving difficult to keep up. They are asking for help to log signatures so they can keep track.

The campaign can use help anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., seven days a week until June 30th. The process occurs at SEIU 1199 at 1395 Dublin Rd in Columbus.

Please contact Brendan Kelley at to let him know if you can help.