Questions about One BoT Appointment Reflect Broader Issues

 

The editor of the Toledo Blade just published an editorial titled “A Bauble for a Buddy,” questioning both the appropriateness and the efficacy of John Kasich’s appointment of Richard Ross, a former state school superintendent, to the Bowling Green State University board of trustees. The appointment needs to be approved by the State Senate, usually a pro-forma process, but the newspaper is calling on the Senate to reject the appointment.

After acknowledging Ross’ accomplishments as a school administrator, the editorial focuses on the charter-school scandals that led to his abrupt retirement as Ohio schools superintendent: “Last year, former state school-choice chief David Hansen admitted excluding failing online and dropout-recovery charter schools from evaluations of the state’s charter schools. Those evaluations helped net the state a $71 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. That grant was put on hold when the scandal broke, and it remains in limbo.”

Supposedly Ross was unaware of the deceit, but it does not require a great deal of cynicism to wonder whether he “kept quiet because his boss, Mr. Kasich, is a staunch proponent of charter schools, many of them financed by some of the most generous Republican campaign donors.”

The editorial declares that it is “nonsense” that Ross hung on in his former position because he wished to address the issues: “That is what you call spin-doctoring. . . . The Department of Education needed reforming because of Mr. Ross’ poor oversight. Auditor Dave Yost said it is still ‘among the worst, if not the worst, state-run agency’ after his audit found continuing problems with the state’s charter schools.”

The editorial closes with the following observations about appointments to university boards of trustees: “such positions have often been considered honorifics—the poor man’s knighthood—to be handed out to cronies and hangers on who were owed. This practice can deprive Ohio public higher education of first-rate governing bodies and access to competence that our universities sorely need. It is a deplorable practice and one that shows contempt for higher learning.”

 

The complete editorial is available at: http://www.toledoblade.com/Featured-Editorial-Home/2016/06/06/A-bauble-for-a-buddy.html.

 

 

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