The immediate object of House Bill 70 (passed by the Ohio General Assembly last Wednesday) was to set up a mechanism for the State of Ohio to take over the highly academically distressed Youngstown City School District.
For Stark Countians and in particular Cantonians, it is an alarm bell that Canton City Schools could be next.
The alarm bells were set off locally by Akron Beacon Journal education writer Doug Livingston, to wit:
Livingston describes in the article the process whereby:
- the Ohio General Assembly - at the last minute in the legislative process of it current session passed House Bill 70 which might result for failing school districts:
- in teacher unions being removed,
- in local voters losing the right to control their own school districts, and
- turn operations over to "for profit" management entities,
- "the Ohio legislature introduced and passed legislation in a matter of hours with no opportunity for the public to deliver opposition testimony."
Only Melissa Cropper of the Ohio Federation of Teachers showed up at this last minute legislative gambit to present opposition to the bill.
However, only four "favorables" to the legislation including recently named Youngstown State University president Jim Tressel:
- former Ohio State University football coach who resigned when the program became troubled,
- who served as interim president of The University of Akron, and applied for the permanent job,
and three other including former Akron University administrator Connie Hathorn (on his way out as superintendent of the Youngstown City Schools) were allowed to testify.
The Stark County Report thinks Canton City Schools are vulnerable under the legislation because of the system's horrible rating by State of Ohio since Ohio has been grading the quality of local school systems since the 2005-2006 school year.
Be sure to take a look at Livingston's "Steps to a Takeover" (LINK).
Take a look going back three years:
Only one majority member (the Republicans control both the Ohio House and Senate) of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly stood in opposition to the bill, that being State Senator Scott Oelslager.
Republican Kirk Schuring (Jackson, House District 48) who once referred to Cantonians as - "those people" - during his 2008 16th Congressional District race in a losing effort against Democrat John Boccieri to succeed long time Republican congressman Ralph Regula, was a "yes" vote to possibly put Canton in the crosshairs of HB 70.
Joining him was Republican Christina Hagan (Marlboro) of the 50th House District.
One may agree or disagree about the merits of the bill, but for Schuring and Hagan to support legislation that was offered with affording opponents the fundamental American democratic-republican values of "notice and opportunity to be heard" should be an outrage to Stark Countians.
Here are the recorded votes of the supersize Republican majority:
Despite Canton mayor William J. Healy, II repetitively in his annual State of the City messages since he developed the notion of "pillars" of rebuilding the declining for years Canton government infrastructure (one pillar being Education), The Report and daresay most Stark Countians see Canton City Schools as one gigantic mess with a school board that is probably among the state's very worst.
Some readers may think HB 70 is the only way to save the likes of the Canton City Schools.
And maybe they are right?