Ohio Gov. John Kasich said a number of interesting things Wednesday during an interview at an “education summit” where six candidates for the Republican presidential nomination spoke with education activist and former CNN host Campbell Brown.
The event, sponsored by Brown’s “The 74” advocacy group and the conservative American Federation for Children, was centered on 45-minutes interviews that Brown did with Kasich, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
* There was the moment when Kasich looked in the audience and said that he believed that to make sure kids learn, “sometimes that means shaking it up a little bit.” Then he said to one specific woman: “See that cross you are wearing around your neck. The lord expects that. He expects us to get out of our comfort zone on the behalf of children. Because you see education is about unlocking this brain to discover and improve the world.”
* There was the moment when Kasich said without a hint of irony, “We’re not going to tolerate failed charter schools,” failing to mention that Ohio’s $1 billion charter sector is the most troubled in the country and that he and Republican lawmakers have failed to take serious action to hold these schools accountable.
Kasich did subtly suggest that it has been hard for Republican lawmakers to come around to putting some restrictions on awful charter schools, and he did recognize that some of the criticism of Ohio charters has been legitimate.
But he didn’t mention that a two-year effort to write legislation that would strengthen oversight of these schools passed in the state Senate in June, and was believed to have majority support in the state House — but, somehow, mysteriously, never made it to a final vote.
And as you might expect, there wasn’t a word — from Brown or Kasich — about the recent investigation that the Akron Beacon Journal did into Ohio charters, in which it found: “No sector — not local governments, school districts, court systems, public universities or hospitals — misspends tax dollars like charter schools in Ohio.” The newspaper had reviewed 4,263 audits released last year by the state and concluded that charter schools in the state appear to have misspent public money “nearly four times more often than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency.” It says that “since 2001, state auditors have uncovered $27.3 million improperly spent by charter schools.”
Yet Kasich did tell Brown, “We’re not going to tolerate failure.”
*There was the moment when he took on all of those teachers lounging around at school complaining about their lives. Kasich started on this train of thought by acknowledging that teachers feel under attack. He said:
I think a lot of our teachers feel that we don’t understand the challenges they have in the classroom because they are getting kids who have been basically not been loved — that when we evaluate them they think, Oh my God, we’re out to take their jobs. But we’re not out to take their jobs. If you need help we’ll help you. If you are a terrible teacher then you should be doing something else because you are going to find more satisfaction doing something you are good at…. I’ll tell you what the unions do, unfortunately, too much of the time. There’s a constant negative comment to, “They’re going to take your benefits,” “They’re going to take your pay.” And so if I were not president but king in America I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about how “woe is us.”
What he didn’t mention was that Ohio voters seem to like their public-sector unions, voting in a referendum to overturn a 2011 law Kasich signed that limited the unions’ collective bargaining rights.
You can watch the clip here:
*There was the moment when Kasich actually praised the American Federation of Teachers in Cleveland, saying the union leader had worked there with his administration to reform Cleveland schools. Brown herself noted that the AFT leader in the city, Melissa Cropper, had said nice things about Kasich. But what neither Kasich nor Brown said was that Cropper is a Clinton supporter, but that if the next president turns out to be a Republican, she would choose Kasich.
*There was the moment when, asked what he would like to accomplish that he hasn’t been able to yet, he told Brown, “I’d have to sit down and ask my staff where we are frustrated.”
*And there were several moments in which he espoused the virtues of local control in virtually the same breath he espoused plans for state takeovers of failing school districts, which, he said, would be “set free” when the state decided to do so. So much for local control.