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Fedor calls for all-elected state school board

Says tarnished ODE reputation underscores problems of putting special interests over children
February 16, 2016
Democratic Newsroom

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) testified Thursday at the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) Committee on Education, calling for a return to Ohio’s all-elected state school board model. Fedor, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, was invited to come before the OCMC after state school board President Tom Gunlock, an appointee of Gov. Kasich, recently proposed ridding the board of locally elected members. 

“A political appointee cannot be the voice of the parents, teachers and students. We have seen political appointees in our state education system illegally scrub data and make decisions based on special interests instead of the best interests of our children,” said Fedor. “An all-elected board would hold educational trustees accountable by putting the power back in the hands of parents and The People.” 

Fedor’s call for a return to an all-elected state school board, and promise for enabling legislation, puts a fractured state education department in the crosshairs of change after a department appointee was found to be illegally scrubbing failing charter school grades to potentially qualify them for new taxpayer-funded benefits. 

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) was recently required to resubmit a $71 million federal grant application for state charter schools after the U.S. Department of Education froze a 2015 request following public calls from Fedor and other prominent lawmakers to take a second look at Ohio’s illegal charter practices. The revised application showed the state initially covered up 51 failing charter schools on its application for federal funds. The ODE also wrongly inflated the number of high-performing charter schools in the state by 36 percent. 

“Returning to an all-elected state school board would restore transparency and accountability to a troubled state education system that has been rocked by illegal data scrubbing and outright lies and distraction on behalf of failing, for-profit charter schools,” Fedor continued. “We have a responsibility to put children ahead of special interests.” 

Fedor’s proposal was met with support from many witnesses at the Constitutional Modernization Commission meeting, including current and former state school board members, as well as the League of Women Voters. 

“An all appointed board in this day and age equals privatization. I oppose the Gunlock proposal for what I consider to be a corporate board,” Fedor added. 

During her testimony, the Toledo lawmaker also asked the OCMC to consider opening its meetings to the broader public by livestreaming video and archiving the recorded testimony.