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November 02, 2009
After his second attempt to dismantle the state's charter school program was thwarted, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is trying to paint himself as a supporter of successful schools of choice.???? Following a speech in Cleveland last week, he praised the city's successful Entrepreneurship Preparatory School (known as E-Prep), which has succeeded where Ohio's urban districts have failed in educating poor, minority children and which would have been killed off by the governor's original budget proposal.???? But the governor's praise is disingenuous at best.???? The truth is that Strickland has been a charter foe from day one, and if not for Senate Republicans he would have happily presided over the killing off of most of the state's charter schools, even the best among them.???? In Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer former editor Brent Larkin didn't mince words in calling out the governor for his hypocrisy:
Strickland's first budget was clearly hostile to charters. The budget he introduced this year would have broken them. So, too, would the version later passed by the Ohio House. Were it not for charters being rescued by the Republican-run Senate, E Prep would not have survived.
"We might have lasted another year, then we would have been out of business," said Zitzner. E Prep's founder thinks Cleveland schools chief Eugene Sanders appreciates the role schools such as E Prep are playing in educating impoverished youngsters. But that's not enough to offset a hostile state government and a woefully ambivalent City Hall.
Strickland has also ranted about the "destructive influence" of charters on public education, complaining that some charter founders are motivated mainly by self-enrichment.
Some charter founders are greedy. And yes, John Zitzner is successful. But he didn't make his money at E Prep, courtesy of the state taxpayers. He made it selling his successful software company to Xerox. Zitzner could have remained with Xerox and made an even larger pile of dough, but he opted instead to found a school that might help his hometown.
"It was biblical," he once explained. "I felt this calling."
Strickland's calling seems to involve being dishonest with voters on this issue. Friday, in response to a question at the City Club, the governor had the audacity to praise E Prep's success, adding, "I would like to see more schools doing as E Prep is doing."
So, just a few weeks after trying to wreck the school, Strickland tries to tell us he loves it. The man has no shame.