TUESDAY UPDATE: (LINK to Dispatch article)
When he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 against Democrat John Boccieri (who won the race), Republican state Representative J. Kirk Schuring said this at a campaign rally in Ashland, Ohio:
"We could never have a rally like this in the center of Canton. If we did, we might be shot at."
And, as the SCPR recalls the incident, he also referred to Cantonians as being "those people."
"Those people?" Well, it is well known that the Canton electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic. Is that what he meant in speaking from predominantly Republican Ashland, Ohio?
Does Schuring see himself as primarily representing those like him?
Later on in this blog, data (obtained from the Ohio Department of Education) as published by KnowYourCharter (a joint venture of the Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Education Association) as interpreted by the SCPR makes the case that Schuring's ties to the private enterprise charter school industry continues to insult and, worse yet, injure "those people" in failing to stop a nearly $9 million annual drain off of state taxpayer money to the benefit of the industry.
(BASE SOURCE OF DATA ODE 2014-15 SCHOOL YEAR REPORT CARD)
And as the chart above shows, it is not only city of Canton schools and "those people" that make up urban Canton that are being hurt.
However, is there any doubt that it is much more politically sustainable for Schuring for the damage done to Stark County public school funding to be a relatively low per student amount (e.g. $69 in Jackson) compared to Stark's more urban areas epitomized by Canton at $969 per student, more or less.
Schuring is now a Republican state representative representing the 48th Ohio House.
So the harm being done not only to "those people" in the Schuring impliedly described bad city of Canton, but also directly impact his constituents attending North Canton schools, Fairless schools, Canton Local (Canton South) schools, Perry Local schools, Plain Local (Glenoak) and the schools in his home base of Jackson Township.
Moreover, his and his Republican fellows charter schools campaign finance ties impact eleven other Stark County school districts.
It is a mystery to the SCPR that Schuring when he makes a public appearance in local school districts is treated like some kind of celebrity.
While he should be treated civilly, he ought to be put on the griddle publicly about his participation in the financial drain off of the charter school phenomenon upon Stark County school districts.
Moreover, being a state of Ohio official, his owes a fiduciary duty to look out for all of Ohio public school district's financial security.
He is up for re-election this November, to wit:
It would be terrific if he were to have a candidate opposing him that had more than "a snowball's chance surviving in Hell" of defeating him.
But it does not appear he has anything to worry about.
The Report has not been able to find anything on the Internet indicating that Ms. Bigham is running an active campaign.
The telephone number listed for her on Stark County Board of Elections records goes unanswered as having been changed, disconnected or no longer in service as shows up as being a Verizon number out Millersburg, Ohio which of course is located in Holmes County.
So there is no doubt he will remain in the Ohio Legislature doing harm to the public school financing infrastructure of Ohio.
Schuring, as of April 26th, he has moved into the Republican leadership team running the supermajority controlled Ohio House as majority leader.
As majority leader, he is the captive of Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger who appears to be firmly committed to undermining Ohio's public school system in his support of the charter school forces.
Over his years in the Ohio General Assembly (OGA, Assembly) going back to 1995, he and Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager have played a version of musical chairs in which gets to keep a seat in the Assembly but just a different seat: the 29th in the Senate, the 48th in the House and its predecessor "the 51st" and before that "the 55th" formerly held by North Canton's David Johnson who did not run for re-election in 1994.
All of which is designed to defeat the intent of Ohio's voters that OGA members serving eight consecutive years step aside under the concept of term limits passed in 1992 in a referendum vote supported by the-then minority Republican Party.
Other than his loss to Boccieri, the SCPR does not recall having had any difficulty whatsoever getting elected to public office.
And Stark Democratic Party past chairmen Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., John Ferrero, Randy Gonzalez and current chairman Phil Giavasis have not been able to field a viable candidate against Schuring.
In 1997, Ohio began a pilot project with charter schools with a pilot program in Toledo under the auspicious of HB 215. Charter schools started as Republican Party generated concept promoted as allowing for school choice in those school districts that are deemed to be providing deficient public education.
Many feel (e.g. office holding Democrats and public school officials) that in reality the charter schools program was conceived to line the pockets of Republican entrepreneurs who open up their wallets with campaign contributions to key Republican legislators to obtain enabling legislation and taxpayer money on which to establish not better than if not inferior charter schools operating under lesser accountability standards than public schools.
One such campaign contributor that opponents to charter schools focus upon is one William L. Lager who founded the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow in 2000.
In July, 2015 he made a hefty $12,532 contribution to Schuring as merely one of many, many contributions to Ohio Republican legislators.
In school year 2014/15, Stark County taxpayers were the source of some $2.5 million of ECOT revenues.
Former Ohio Speaker of the House and Republican Billy Batchelder actually formed a lobbying firm doing work for ECOT when he stepped down from the legislature.
And looking at data obtained from the Ohio secretary of state office, Lager during the 2015 reporting cycle made Schuring's largest campaign contribution as cited above.
While Schuring obviously does not need the money for his own campaign, as majority leader one of his jobs is to help fund Republican causes and candidates across Ohio.
(Extrapolated from Data on Ohio SOS Campaign Finance Website)
Recently, a controversy has developed over an Ohio Department of Education (ODE) effort to audit attendance of students taking ECOT online courses. It appears that Schuring is a leading figure in an effort to fend off a thoroughgoing audit.
Here are a number of links for readers to peruse in order to get a full understanding of the fight. Included in the links is material that shows Schuring to be actively involved ostensibly as a mediator figure but appears to the SCPR be a thinly veiled effort on behalf of ECOT in order to head off a crises for the online behemoth:
- Columbus Dispatch, January 4, 2015, ECOT Poor Performance,
- Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 20, 2016,
- Times Reporter, June 9, 2016 (Letter to Editor)
- Note: Writer is a Canton City Schools teacher who is active in the Canton Professional Education Association)
- The writer, Greg Soper, says that he has make multiple attempts to contact Schuring and Christina Hagan (the 50th) but his calls have gone unreturned,
- Columbus Dispatch, July 14, 2016 (extensive quotes attributed to Schuring)
- Campaign Opponent Press Release on Republican Rep. Stephanie Kunze, July 16, 2016,
- Columbus Dispatch, August 7, 2016,
- Akron Beacon Journal editorial, August 14, 2016,
- Columbus Dispatch, August 19, 2016,
How can Schuring credibly present himself as a more or less objective problems solver in light of his having received substantial campaign contributions from Lager?
There is a time that it appeared that Schuring among all of Stark County's Republicans serving or having served in the Ohio legislature that had some independence about him.
But now that he is majority leader, any semblance of his doing what is good for a majority of Ohio's citizens and derivatively Stark Countians in stemming the erosion of public school funding as a priority over his political party's agenda has evaporated.
In his quiet moments, Schuring can now reflect on how he has added to the growing everyday citizen's disenchantment with integrity in government.