Ohio is ideally placed to compete for $440 million in Race to the Top federal grant money, despite complaints by Sen. Jon Husted, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State. (See the Columbus Dispatch story).
This is part of an organized campaign by charter school advocates to undermine state applications for Race to the Top grants that focus on school improvement, especially in high-needs schools.
This, despite Ohio’s recognition as a trailblazer by the Education Commission of the States for the school transformation measures of House Bill 1 and the state’s growing success and reputation for school improvement, including a No. 5 ranking by Education Week.
Husted believes the state shouldn’t spend anything to communicate best practices and success stories so that school districts, parents, teachers and administrators can learn from others.
I’m not surprised. After Husted’s many votes for failing charter schools and against funding mainstream public schools, his criticism of Ohio’s work on Race to the Top sounds wide of the mark, perhaps even disingenuous and self-serving.
When you look at the record, no Ohio Republican Congressman supported President Obama’s stimulus aid to public schools, which has brought $2.8 billion into Ohio and saved nearly 12,000 jobs in K-12 and public colleges and universities. (See the official reporting on aid to education and jobs saved at the state’s recovery.ohio.gov web site.
If Sen. Husted and his allies truly want to help public schools excel in Ohio, they would vote for a state budget that supported local school districts.
Instead, he voted against education funding twice last year on budget roll calls that would have cost Ohio’s local schools $815 million to $2.3 billion. I don’t know how that would have helped Ohio students.
The Dispatch spotlighted Husted’s narrow criticism, and then its editorial criticized the Ohio Department of Education for not having any public meetings to discuss the Race to the Top grants.
In reality, the Race to the Top grant application is to accelerate the education reform measures passed as House Bill 1 last summer. Before those reforms went into effect, Governor Strickland had many public meetings on the substance of what Ohioans wanted in terms of reform and education for the 21st century, and you can still see all those sessions on-line at converstationoneducation.org.
What does Sen. Husted really want for Ohio education? You only have to look at Senate Bill 180, his proposed legislation:
- Lift the internet charter school moratorium
- Make value-added tests key for teacher licensure and evaluations
- But meanwhile, accelerate minimally trained Teach For America teachers into professional teaching licensure.
ODE reported 64% of charter schools were rated as failing in 2008, so the e-charter moratorium makes sense. Meanwhile, Ohio has toughened its standards for educator quality. Why Husted can say his vision matches Race to the Top is beyond me.