Author Archives: The News Outlet
Nov. 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Residents share their memories of America’s 35th president.
While some people joke about police affection for doughnuts, the officers at Youngstown State University Police Department don’t think physical fitness is a laughing matter. Whether they sit on exercise balls instead of chairs, relocate their trash cans down a hallway or volunteer for bike duty, these officers try to keep fit.
What is a clear conflict of interest for an Ohio state legislator is not so clear for a member of the State Board of Education. Four state school board members have business and private interests that compete directly for education dollars. Two are lobbyists, one is married to a lobbyist, and another benefits from public money given to the Christian college where he is president for post-secondary education. When it comes to the state school board, “Lobby law is silent,” said Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission.
The State School Board of Education has focused its attention on more school choice in Ohio. Proponents say more choice will lead to competition and result in better quality schools. They also say parents are capable of making informed choices on where their children should go to school. Opponents of expanded choice say it’s hard for parents to make an informed choices when they are inundated by road signs, TV and radio ads, robo-calls and mailers. They also say private and for-profit schools don’t face the same level of accountability as their public school counterparts.
Stephanie Dodd, the District 9 representative on the State Board of Education in Ohio, has a history in politics, having worked as a fundraiser for Democrats. Also, her husband, Dan Dodd, is a former state lawmaker who now works as a lobbyist for private preparatory and religious schools. In her mainly rural district, she cites the lack of technology as one of her biggest concerns.
Politically neutral Michael L. Collins is the elected State Board of Education member from District 6 in Ohio. He decries the increasing political nature of the board and the lack of a responsible and fair funding system to pay for education in Ohio.
Deborah Cain was president of the State Board of Education in Ohio until elections installed a Republican governor. Once that happened, the makeup of the board changed and she was in the minority. She says her main goal is to support traditional public schools.
Joseph Farmer, an at-large member of the State Board of Education in Ohio, got his post after a recommendation was made to the governor on his behalf. The recommendation came from his son, Kyle, chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party. Farmer came to the job with 19 years of experience as a local school board member. Farmer said his decisions are guided by his beliefs about right and wrong, and freedom of choice.
Sarah Fowler was elected in November 2012 to the District 7 seat on the State Board of Education in Ohio. At 25, she is the youngest member on the board and the only member who was home-schooled. In fact, it was through the home-schooled network, Ohioans for Educational Freedom, that Fowler learned of the opening on the state school board and decided to run. That group was aware that regulations regarding home school were due for review and were trying to make sure home-schoolers were represented on the board.
Ohio Republican governors have twice appointed Thomas Gunlock to positions on the State Board of Education. Most recently, he was appointed to an at-large seat and serves at the vice president of the board. He is a major donor to Republican politicians. Gunlock said his focus on the state board is to be a principal player in implementing the teacher evaluation system and to “change the accountability system.”