Maureen Reedy is an experienced teacher and advocate for Ohio’s public schools. She wrote a letter to the editor which all public school supporters should read:

To the Editor:

Let me get this straight: James Ragland, a first-term Columbus school board member, is also a paid advocate for private and for-profit charter schools in Ohio? (Dispatch article, Sept. 23)

In the business world, Ragland’s roles would be a blatant conflict of interest — the fox guarding the henhouse in violation of his fiduciary obligation as a publicly elected board member.

Which hat was Ragland wearing when he joined Betsy DeVos at the School Choice Roundtable in July? Was he participating as the director of provider outreach for School Choice Ohio or as a Columbus City Schools board member?

Clearly, Ragland, while working for School Choice Ohio, has been a player in moving almost $1 billion from Columbus City Schools to fund lower-performing charter and private voucher schools from 2017 to 2021. During this same period, Ohio’s higher performing public schools have lost close to $5 billion to charter and private voucher schools.

Ohio’s public schools are the schools of choice for over 90% of Ohio’s schoolchildren who attend their neighborhood public schools.

Ohio’s public school four-year graduation rate is 85%, about double the graduation rate for charter schools in Ohio.

Caught in this COVID pandemic, we are in the grip of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis where it is clearly unsustainable to drain billions of dollars from Ohio’s public schools.

Ragland cannot have it both ways. Supporting the mission of Columbus City Schools as a board member while being paid to advocate for taking almost a billion dollars a year from Ohio’s public schools to fund lower-performing private and charter schools is wrong.

This conflict of interest in “robbing Peter to pay Paul” must end.

Maureen Reedy, Columbus