John Kasich Urges Local Control of Education but Called It ‘Hysteria’ in Ohio

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

John Kasich attempted to dismiss his prior condescending statements toward parents’ grassroots groups in his home state of Ohio when CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper asked him about his view of the Common Core standards.

“You have called opposition to Common Core ‘hysteria,’” Tapper said to John Kasich Thursday night in Miami. “What is your response to grassroots conservatives who do not agree with you?”

Tapper refers to last year, when grassroots groups of parents were fighting the federally funded Common Core standards in Ohio, demanding that education be returned to the state and local levels. Kasich responded that their calls amounted to nothing more than “hysteria,” and that their organized efforts to defeat Common Core in Ohio were merely “a runaway internet campaign.”

“Well, look, all I’m in favor of in Ohio is high standards,” Kasich responded to Tapper. “First of all, let me tell you, I would take 125 federal education programs, put them in four buckets, and send them back to the states. OK, I’ve been working on this for many, many years.”

“Secondly, Jake, in our state, the state school board sets the standards,” Kasich continued. “And we want high standards because we have not always had high standards, unfortunately. They set the standards and the local school boards develop the curriculum.”

“[F]rankly, education has to be run at the school board level with a little guidance from the state,” Kasich said, adding that he would like to see “vocational education starting in the seventh grade where kids can get that kind of education that can take them to college, but all the way through their K through 12 they ought to be connected with real-world jobs.”

Kasich’s statement about vocational education amounts to “workforce development,” or “school-to-work,” the idea that government should help private business develop its future workers. Conservatives and libertarians have opposed workforce development policies that force children into “tracks” — as Kasich admits — based on tests from the time they are in middle school. Most parents know that children may change their minds at least several times over about their career interests between middle school and the later teen years.

As for Kasich’s desire for “high standards,” Common Core is hardly the mark to hit.

In August of 2014, renowned professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley — Marina Ratner — wrote the Common Core standards will make math education even worse in the United States and move the nation “even closer to the bottom in international ranking.”

“The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards,” Ratner said, adding the standards “are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills.”

Lead writer of the Common Core math standards Jason Zimba also acknowledged to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the Common Core standards would not prepare students for STEM or selective four-year colleges.

Kasich is also a strong advocate of charter schools and school vouchers — the least conservative means of bringing about school choice. Vouchers allow taxpayer dollars to follow the child to the private or charter school of his choice, and while that sounds “conservative,” the reality is that it is not only the money that follows along with the child, but also increased government regulation. For some years now, conservative and libertarian education policy experts have warned against voucher systems in favor, instead, of tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts, which are less likely to drag the regulations and mandates of government schools into the private arena.

When it comes to charter schools, some are effective in achieving student success, but others have been examples of cronyism and corruption as a result of arrangements between politicians and private businesses. And Kasich’s campaign has had experience with that already.

As Breitbart News reported in September, the husband of Kasich’s presidential campaign manager was discovered to have participated with other Ohio Department of Education staff in a coordinated effort to falsely inflate the evaluations of some charter school sponsors.

In July of last year, former Ohio Department of Education Director of School Choice David Hansen — husband of Beth Hansen, Kasich’s former chief of staff in the governor’s office and his presidential campaign manager — resigned after admitting he manipulated evaluations of some charter sponsors, reported the Columbus Dispatch. The data rigging allowed the sponsors of poor-performing online schools to appear to be engaged in adequate supervision of those schools.

State Superintendent of Schools Richard Ross said the records show that neither he nor Kasich had any involvement in the data manipulation. The Dispatch, however, reports “emails show that some outside the department were asking for explanations.”

“We had a breakdown in our system which undermined the progress we were making in holding charter schools accountable,” Ross said. “Excluding e-schools didn’t cross my mind. It’s not what I believe; not what I’m about.”

Hansen, whose position was created in 2013 by Kasich to oversee the expansion of charter schools in the state, told the Associated Press that the state law pertaining to the evaluation of Ohio’s charter schools was “not a model of clarity.”

The controversy came at a time when Ohio’s charter schools were under significant scrutiny, with problems of attendance and accountability surrounding the schools that were billed as an alternative to public schools.

And Hansen himself was not new to data rigging.

As Ohio Political blog Plunderbund reported, in 2009 — while Hansen was president of the Buckeye Institute — he was also caught manipulating data regarding Ohio’s charter schools, yet was still chosen to be school choice director in 2013. Many of the schools involved were owned and operated by for-profit company White Hat Management, which itself is owned by David Brennan, a big donor — through his family’s foundation — to the Buckeye Institute, to the Republican Party, and to Kasich’s campaign in Ohio.


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