Jan Resseger writes that HB 70, the law allowing the state to take over school districts because they have low test scores, will be a permanent stain on John Kasich’s legacy. Who knew that Republicans believe that the best way to “fix” schools is to eliminate elected school boards? Did anyone tell the Ohio legislators about the failure of state takeovers in Michigan and Tennessee? So-called “Reformers” despise democracy.

The bill was rushed through the Republican-dominated legislature, which prefers to abrogate local control rather than invest resources in districts enrolling large numbers of poor children.

First the state took over Youngstown, now it is taking over East Cleveland and Lorain.

The newly appointed leaders are hiring uncertified administrators and bringing in TFA. Just what vulnerable children (don’t) need: totally unqualified educators.

The implementation of state takeover has been insensitive and insulting. Ohio’s Plunderbund reported in March, 2018 that Krish Mohip, the state overseer CEO in Youngstown, feels he cannot safely move his family to the community where he is in charge of the public schools. He has also been openly interviewing for other jobs including school districts as far away as Boulder, Colorado and Fargo, North Dakota. And a succession of members of Youngstown’s Academic Distress Commission have quit.

Plunderbund adds that Lorain’s CEO, David Hardy tried to donate the amount of what would be the property taxes on a Lorain house to the school district, when he announced that he does not intend to bring his family to live in Lorain. The Elyria Chronicle Telegram reported that Lorain’s CEO has been interviewing and hiring administrators without the required Ohio administrator certification. Hardy has also been courting Teach for America. In mid-November, the president of Lorain’s elected board of education, Tony Dimacchia formally invited the Ohio Department of Education to investigate problems under the state’s takeover Academic Distress Commission and its appointed CEO. He charged: “The CEO has created a culture of violence, legal violations, intimidation, and most importantly they have done nothing to improve our schools.” The Lorain Morning Journal’s Richard Payerchin describes Dimacchia’s concerns: “Dimacchia claimed student and teacher morale is at an all-time low, while violence (at the high school) is at an all-time high…”

At last week’s Statehouse rally, Youngstown Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan described all the ways HB 70 abrogates democracy: “The legislation took away the voice of the locally elected school board members and gave an autocratic, unaccountable, appointed CEO total control over every facet of the system. The CEO can hire who he wants. Fire who he wants. Pay people whatever he wants. Hire consultants and pay them as much as he wants. Buy whatever he wants and pay as much as he wants for it. Tear up collective bargaining agreements. Ignore teachers. Ignore students. Ignore parents. And he also has the power to begin closing schools if performance does not improve within five years. Nearly four years in, here’s what the Youngstown Plan has produced: Ethical lapses. No-bid contracts. Huge salaries for the team of administrators the CEO hired. Concern and anxiety among students, parents, and teachers. And the resignation of most of the members of the Distress Commission who were charged with overseeing the CEO. Here’s what it hasn’t produced: better education for our kids.”