When I saw that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute was grading the education legacy of John Kasich, I knew we would not agree. Its report begins by crediting Kasich for copying Jeb Bush’s simple-minded letter grading for schools, which makes less sense than giving a single letter grade to a child. Kasich tried to wipe out collective bargaining but was rebuked by the public in a referendum. He has given free reign with little or no accountability to charter entrepreneurs and presided over scandal after scandal in the charter sector, currently, the $1 billion wasted by ECOT. He has been indifferent at best, but certainly hostile, to the very concept of public schools, whereas his state was once a leader in advocacy for excellent public schools. Like all rightwing Republicans, he pushed for vouchers, and Ohio has a voucher program for “poor kids trapped in failing schools.” Ironically, the Fordham Institute commissioned a study of Ohio’s voucher program, led by David Figlio of Northwestern University, which determined that students who enrolled in voucher schools fared worse than their peers who remained in public schools.

During the Republican primaries of 2016, Kasich posed as the “moderate” in the race, and compared to the others, maybe he was. My friends in New York couldn’t understand why I thought he was a rightwing ideologue, no different from Jeb Bush, but pretending to be the “adult in the room.”

Bill Phillis, the retired Deputy Commissioner of Education in Ohio, and founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy, comments on the Fordham review of Kasich.

He writes (the comments in brackets are mine, not Bill Phillis’):

An April 17 Fordham review of the Governor’s education legacy shows Fordham and the Governor seem to be on the same page regarding education issues.
  1. The Governor established the A-F Report Card. Fordham laments that it is now in jeopardy. [My comment: good riddance to a dumb idea.]
  2. The Governor provided passionate support for the Third Grade Guarantee. Fordham says the jury is still out on the effects of it. [My comment: Holding back third-graders is a proven way of lifting your fourth-grade scores.]
  3. The Governor’s early efforts focused on lifting limitations on the creation of new charters and providing facility assistance, but then supported charter sponsor evaluations and additional charter school accountability. Fordham says charter accountability could be a lasting legacy for the Governor. [My comment: Charter accountability? That would be innovative.]
  4. The Governor attempted to eliminate public employee collective bargaining but failed. Then he championed Teach for America (TFA) and statewide teacher evaluations. Fordham wonders if these changes will last. [My comment: Swell idea to smash unions and introduce inexperienced, unprepared teachers who will leave in two years.]
  5. The Governor, early on, focused on expanding private school choice. Fordham laments that many of Ohio’s lowest income students have little opportunity to access private school choice. [My comment: Fordham funded research demonstrating that kids who use a voucher fare worse than kids in public schools.]
  6. The Governor eliminated the “evidence-based” school funding model. Fordham says the current school funding formula is a vast improvement over the evidence-based model. [Bill Phillis: Wow…how so? Me: Evidence and Kasich’s education policies have never actually met.]
Fordham relishes the fact that the money-follows-the-child idea is now an integral part of budget discussions.
Fordham, like Betsy DeVos, subscribes to the myth that school funds belong to the students-not the system-you know, the Ohio constitutionally-required system of common schools.
So what would be a great education legacy for a governor? A governor that would accomplish the constitutional requirement that the state secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools would go down in history as the “education” governor.
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William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 | ohioeanda@sbcglobal.net| www.ohiocoalition.org