Gov. Kasich has signed a bill into law that will give the mayor of Columbus more control over the city’s public schools. But as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, not everyone is happy about that.
It’s two o'clock. It’s 90 degrees and very humid. But the weather doesn't stop dozens of Columbus residents who are hot under the collar about the way Gov. Kasich is doing his job from showing up to protest his visit to a popular Columbus neighborhood school to sign a new bill into law.
Some in the group are upset with the governor’s stand on women’s issues. Some are upset about fracking. But Marlene Robbins is upset that the governor is signing this bill in her school.
Robbins: "I am a teacher at Indianola and was shocked and dismayed that they chose this school as the place to sign it when it’s about taking funding options away from the students who actually go here and all of public education to give to failing charter schools. Over 70 percent of the charter schools are failing. They aren’t held to the same accountability whatsoever."
Robbins is not alone in her opposition to what’s known as the Columbus Education plan. It gives Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman more say in the operation of the city’s school districts. IT sets some new rules for schools, and the district itself to follow. And if puts in place incentives for teachers and schools to achieve goals...and disincentives for those that don’t. It has some elements in common with a similar plan that was passed for Cleveland’s city schools last year. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman says this bill will help make sure all of the city’s children, no matter where they live or the color of their skin, get a quality education.
Coleman: "Our city ranks high on every quality of life issue in this nation and we are very proud of those rankings. But our city’s schools have not shared in our city’s success. And we need to fix it. We have to fix it. And this bill is part of the fix."
Gov. Kasich is flanked by state and community leaders, as well as students at this public school, as he signs the bill into law.
The Columbus Schools have had their share of problems during the past year after an audit showed many problems with the way the school handled data for state standards. After signing the bill, the Governor tells reporters he thinks signing this bill should give the community more confidence in its public school system.
Kasich: "The public is jumpy. I mean what they have found is there is a trust issue. And there’s a lot of bad publicity that came out the operation of the schools and I’m saying to folks who are reading because the signing of this legislation to calm down, take a deep breath because the signing of this legislation today, the commitment from the business leaders means this is a fresh start."
He says the criticism about charter schools under this plan is off base.
Kasich: "All we are interested in is high performing opportunities for mothers and fathers. Some of it involves vouchers, others involve community schools, your charter schools, public schools. Look, everybody accuses everybody of politics but the bottom line for me is I want kids to be in a setting where they are going to learn."
Kasich notes this plan is supported by some Democrats, businesses, and some parent and teacher groups. And Kasich points out Columbus residents will have a say in this as funding for the plan will likely be taken before voters at some point in the future.