Partisan purges

Fresh of their electoral defeats that produced a large majority thanks to partisan gerrymandering, the extremists in the Ohio House are not done with their partisan purging. Now they are going after the Ohio Accountability Task Force, according to a report in Gongwer

The task force, which first met in December 2003, was tasked with examining how to implement the value-added report card measure in ways that are most useful for improving student achievement, according to ODE documents.

With its name changed to the Ohio Accountability Advisory Committee, the panel's membership would see "substantial" changes including the removal of: the ranking minority members of the House and Senate education committees, a teachers union representative, a school district board of education member, and a school superintendent, Mr. Stebelton said.

It instead includes three members of the public each appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, two appointed by the governor and one appointed by the state auditor, he said. The superintendent of public instruction would be a nonvoting member.

"It sounds like from this list that what's been removed from this group, from this board is representation of folks who have experience in education," Rep. Nickie Antonio (R-Lakewood) said.

When Republicans are questioning the merits of the partisan purge you know there must be something wrong. Rep Stabelton, who is sponsoring the legislation (HB555) revealed his partisan purpose when he had this to say

"This will work both ways. Someday when you get back in the majority, our people won't be on it and you folks will."

Of course, due to extreme gerrymandering, Rep Stabelton knows full well that Democrats can never be back in the majority no matter how many Ohioans vote for them. The other real problem with this ridiculous proposal was also repeatedly noted

She (Rep. Denise Driehaus) also raised issues with the lack of presence of local education officials on the panel. "As the committee stands now there are some guarantees that some local representative and folks with education backgrounds, people that are participating in our system now" will be on the committee.

The Ohio General Assembly needs more not less expertise advising it, they have been making an awful mess of education policy these last few years listening to partisans with no education expertise like Rep Stabelton.

Tea partiers threaten public education

Not content with the Governor's $3 billion dollar state budget assault on public education, tea partiers, supported by the far right "1851 Center for Constitutional Law" - an offshoot of the right wing Buckeye Institute, are seeking to assault public education funding at the local level too.

Taxpayers for Westerville Schools, a group that opposed a 6.9-mill levy that voters approved in March, has begun collecting signatures to repeal an equal portion of an 11.4-mill levy approved in 2009.

The group is reaching back to that levy because state law bars the repeal of temporary tax issues, such as the five-year levy passed this year. The 2009 tax issue is permanent.

This is a move so radical and extreme that it has only ever been proposed once in the history of the state. If the "Center for Constitutional law" really cared about the Ohio constitution and public education it would be lobbying for a constitutional funding formula for our schools instead of trying to defund them. But rather than do that, they have published a document that contains the broad tactics groups can use to defund public education, a document that contains such information as

Warning: if you follow the advice in this guide, proponents of higher spending and taxation will assert, as always, that children will suffer unless new levies are enacted, while current revenue sources are maintained. However, if you’ve read this far, you and your neighbors (1) have likely already heard and dispelled this argument; (2) are aware that your local school district has a spending problem, not a revenue problem; and (3) simply want to keep more of what you have rightfully earned, and want to this seemingly endless cycle of tax hikes to stop.

Clearly they think every district has a spending problem, and every citizen is over taxed - regardless of whether voters in places like Westerville disagreed by passing a levy just months ago. Their roadmap even includes this nugget:

(6) Keep a low profile. Remember, only once every five years can an attempt be made to reduce any given levy. If your school district’s teachers union gets wind of your plans too early in the process, they may quickly gather signatures and place a .000001 mil reduction of the levy tax on the ballot before you are able to gather and submit signatures for your more significant reduction.

Wanting to operate in the shadows was evident yesterday when confronted over twitter

@jointhefutureOH @DispatchEteam @dougcaruso @cbinkley We are all WCSD residents concerned about our schools' future-NOT a tea party group.

We responded

@TFWS1 Really? All just a coincidence you're involved with the 1851 center? Same agenda as the tea party, same support. Same, same.

As did others

@TFWS1 @jointhefutureOH Sounds like the tenets of the Tea Party? Why fight the association to Tea Party? What's the difference?

At this point, this tea party group tried to make ridiculous claims about the 1851 Constitutional Law Center

@ascheurer @jointhefutureOH They're a non-proft, non-partisan legal ctr dedicatd to protctng the constitut rights of Ohioans from govt abuse

A quick survey of their agenda and their board of directors quickly dispels any notion this is a non-partisan group.

What is striking about this recent move by the tea party to attack public education is their unwillingness to embrace their agenda. Instead, as the 1851 center urges, they want to "keep a low profile". We're going to see to it that that doesn't happen.

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.

Repealing SB5 isn't partisan, it's personal

Yesterday, over 600 labor leaders packed the pipefitters union hall on Kinnear Road in Columbus to discuss the next phase of the repeal effort. What is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing moment is the shear scale of the opposition to SB5. It was a mid July day with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, yet people had come together in their hundreds for a closed to the press event, whose nature might usually attract only 30.

It's not just the numbers that should cause supporters of SB5 to take stock, but the breadth of opposition. The gathering represented over 2 million members, from public and private sector unions. While much focus has been placed on the direct assault on teachers, police and fire, private sector allies have stepped up and into the fray too, to lend their considerable support.

Everyone recognizing SB5 for what it is, a direct and indirect assault on working men and women in Ohio.

As if to punctuate this huge gathering, it happened, by coincidence, on the same the day that Secretary of State John Husted certified that voters would guaranteed the opportunity to repeal SB5 in November on the back of a record breaking signature collection effort

Secretary of State Jon Husted certified a state-record 915,456 valid signatures collected by a coalition seeking to repeal the Republican-backed law that weakens collective bargaining for public employees. Only 231,147 were needed to place a referendum on the ballot.

On June 29, We Are Ohio, the coalition opposed to Senate Bill 5, delivered nearly 1.3 million signatures to Husted's office for validation -- smashing the previous state record. Those signatures were shipped to their respective county boards of election for initial validation, and Husted was responsible for final certification.

In addition to cruising past the threshold for total number of valid signatures, We Are Ohio also collected signatures equal to 3 percent of the total vote cast in last year's gubernatorial election in all 88 counties -- which campaign spokesman Melissa Fazekas said was also a first in Ohio history.

The effort isn't massive because it's partisan, we see that all the time, it's massive because for millions of workers from across the political spectrum, it is personal.

It's too late Rheeby

Now that Michele Rhee's corporate reform agenda has been exposed for the partisan effort it always was, she's looking to rehabilitate her tarnished image by hiring yet more lobbyists.

Democratic National Committee national spokesman Hari Sevugan will move to a top post at the former Washington, D.C., school chief Michelle Rhee's new advocacy group, Students First, a move aimed at strengthening its hand in the complex and high-stakes politics of education policy.

The move is intended to bring "the reputation of the group back to a non-partisan place after being seen, undeservedly, as overly friendly with Republicans," the source said. "Students First has strong relationships with many Democratic establishment hands including [former White House Communications Director] Anita Dunn.. and has worked with Democratic and Republican officials on a number of issues. But because some of the more prominent work has been with Republican governors including scoring some stunning successes in unlikely states like Nevada, that partisan reputation has been thrust upon it," the source said.

It's also, a more skeptical Democrat said, a sign of the damage that's been done to her image since she left her post in Washington after last year's mayoral election.

Folks are right to be skeptical, as the Washington Post lists Rhee's recent partisan anti-teacher activities


She is an unpaid adviser to the anti-union Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has never met a voucher or a charter school he doesn't like. If Scott had his way, he would proceed with a program that would provide vouchers to every public school family in the state and allow them to use it at whatever school they wished. Such a scheme would decimate the public school system. (No, I'm not arguing that public education doesn't need big changes, so please don't tell me I am.)

Rhee is also allied with former Republican governor Jeb Bush, who has been a leader in corporate-driven education reform in Florida and the nation.


She played a role in persuading lawmakers in Tennessee (where her ex-husband, Kevin Huffman, is the new commissioner of education) to pass an anti-union bill that, among other things, eliminates collective bargaining for teachers. She co-authored an April op-ed in the Tennessean supporting the legislation with former Republican Sen. Bill Frist. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) recently signed the bill into law.


Republican Gov. Scott Walker, you will remember, pushed a budget that cut state worker pay, eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees, and contained other measures to weaken unions. Massive protests followed. Rhee went on Fox News to support the plan to limit bargaining rights for teachers. Take a look at the video here.

And here's another video of Rhee, on a local news channel, talking about why it is important that teachers not have some collective bargaining rights.


Republican Gov. John Kasich pushed through SB 5 -- a bill expected to face a ballot referendum -; that severely limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers, and StudentsFirst was there to lobby on behalf of the bill.


Republican Gov. Chris Christie made overtures to Rhee about serving as the state education commissioner, but she didn't want to be constrained by a job that kept her in just one state. She has, though, expressed support for his budget-cutting policies.


Rhee joined forces with Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who pushed through the most extensive school voucher bill in the country. The law will provide public money for low- and middle-income families to help pay tuition at any private school. Here you can see Rhee attending a rally in support of the legislation.

Is it just me, or does it strike you as odd that a former public school chancellor supposedly dedicated to public education wants to use public money for private education?


Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval recently met with Rhee and said she supports his education policies, including a teacher quality bill that among other things supports vouchers for private schools and would eliminate teacher tenure.

Meanwhile, Rhee was nominated for the Public's Servant award by the Sam Adams Alliance. The other two nominees were Wisconsin's Walker and super conservative Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Alas, she didn't win. Cuccinelli did, for "challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care law."

And the strongly conservative American Federation for Children -- which focuses on promoting school vouchers -- hosted a policy summit in Washington in March, where they gave awards to Michelle Rhee, Scott Walker and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania.

Well, you can say this for Rhee: She's been mighty busy.