How many governors does Ohio have?
January 20, 2009
When Gov. Ted Strickland gives his State of the State address next Wednesday and unveils his much-anticipated education-reform and school-funding plan in early February, which governor will show up?
Will it be the governor whose first biennial budget proposal in 2007 would have effectively snuffed out the charter sector in Ohio, or the one who now observes "I don't think all charters are bad; I think there are good charters" (see here)? Will it be the Strickland who, in July 2007, said that then-Superintendent Susan Zelman "has the skills to be a superb leader of elementary and secondary education in Ohio" or the one who, eight months later, struck out at Zelman, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board that "she's not a leader, she's not an advocate, she's not a good manager. She's an academician, a psychometrician, a statistician" (see here). Will it be the governor who launched a statewide tour to listen to the public on the topic of education, or the one who used his power to appoint State Board of Education members to seat two union-endorsed candidates who were recently rejected by their local voters (see here)?
In any case, we're certain to see a man who is hanging his gubernatorial success on his education plan, so even at this late hour, people continue to offer him their advice and hopes.
Ohio's philanthropic community weighed in this week with Beyond Tinkering: Creating Real Opportunities for Today's Learners and for Generations of Ohioans to Come (see here). Fordham's own Terry Ryan offered advice in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed earlier this month (see here). Strickland has expressed concern that some charter school sponsors are exempt from state oversight. Sharing this concern, and echoing a recommendation from a 2006 report by the Fordham Institute, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (see here), Ryan recommended a compromise-that Strickland and the General Assembly give the State Board of Education authority over all charter school sponsors in return for holding the board and the Ohio Department of Education accountable through the appointment of a charter school advisory council. He wrote the op-ed before Strickland announced his education board appointees, so it's fair to say Ryan may come to regret seeking compromise.
As for Strickland's board appointees, they participated in their first meeting last week (see here). Ten of the board's 19 members are new; but unlike the Ohio House of Representatives (where one-third of the members are new), the State Board of Education doesn't start its work afresh every two years. Instead, the new members pick up right where the old ones left things in December. So, while House members are spending January getting their bearings in Columbus, figuring out committee assignments, and receiving two days of training in "how to call for votes and follow proper parliamentary procedure" (see here), new members on the education board found themselves considering changes to administrative rules and the revocation of teachers' licenses on their first day on the job.