Charter school officials would be banned from making campaign contributions under a sweeping plan unveiled today by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich.
The former congressman and Cleveland mayor also wants a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow local school boards to decide whether they even want charter schools, which are privately operated but funded with taxpayer dollars.
“Ohio public educational funding has been subverted by special interest groups and for-profit charter school management companies, who through campaign contributions have, in the past decade, normalized the privatization of public education funding, creating an often substandard, for-profit system ‘education’ system, using and misusing billions of dollars in public funds,” Kucinich said.
“The normalization of what is essentially a wholly corrupt system constitutes one of the greatest scandals in the history of the state of Ohio because billions of public funds have been diverted away from public education and have enriched private, for-profit enterprises.”
He pointed to the founder of ECOT, the online charter school forced to close last month, who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to state lawmakers who enabled lax oversight and the diversion of money from local school districts to charter schools.
“Any local school board member, member of the General Assembly, or employee of the Ohio Department of Education who accepts any payment, gratuity, or campaign contribution with a value of more than one dollar, or any pecuniary benefit in excess of one dollar from the operator of a charter school or on behalf of such entities will be subject to forfeiting any state benefit, including salary and pension,” Kucinich said.
He said he will ask the legislature to return to the public election of all members of the state school board, which was the case from 1956 to 1996, when governors were given the power to appoint several board members. Ironically, just two days ago Gov. John Kasich pushed to allow the governor to choose the entire board, because voters have no idea of for whom they are voting.
Kucinich pledged to “shine a light on the corrupt system that allows millions of taxpayer dollars to flow into the pockets of profiteering private charter operators, and then, into the political campaign coffers of politicians, all at the expense of local taxpayers, Ohio’s children, and quality public education.”
Full story: The Columbus Dispatch
Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo