I’m visiting South Carolina this week and I see that their Governor Henry McMaster has signed a bill for private school vouchers for parents. The Palmetto State now joins Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee in passing a law to give Educational Savings Account money to parents to allow them to choose where their kids go to school and give them money to do it. Milton Friedman called it “Free to Choose.”
If you look at the current rankings of K-12 education in the United States, Ohio is ranked somewhere about 25th. The results in bigger cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus are horrendous. Cincinnati Public Schools does not meet any of five State Standards and 44% of the students are proficient in math and 50% are proficient in reading. Results go radically downhill when you look at Cleveland (10% math, 21% reading) and Columbus (15% math, 26% reading).
There are several reasons that education is on such a bad trajectory in Ohio. Power being concentrated among a very few people at the executive branch and a weak Governor DeWine doesn’t help. Then, you have a State Board of Education that is ineffective and cannot even replace its own Superintendent after two years. And finally, you have several Republican legislators, according to the Freedom Foundation, that appear to be corrupted by accepting large contributions from Union teacher money(*).
Let’s drill down and take a look at the media and groups like Gannett and in our home city the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Enquirer regularly parades a host of teacher union Guest Opinion Pieces to complain about any initiative introduced to improve education. The way these written pieces come out in the paper on every release of every House or Senate bill advocating change is like clockwork. The constant complaint that teachers don’t make enough money ($72,436 average in Cincinnati area) is always the ongoing battle cry of why education in Ohio is middle-of-the pack.
When looking at topics like Critical Race Theory and indoctrination of students, the Enquirer will not even acknowledge it exists. The Enquirer will run 10 guest editorials repeating to us the fact that “Critical race theory is an academic field of study not involved in K-12 schools.” Sorry, parents who actually see this stuff in their kid’s schools are not buying this media narrative. The Enquirer never promotes, questions, analyzes any public initiative met to improve education in Ohio. It’s almost like the Enquirer is Randi Weingarten’s puppet (American Federation of Teacher’s President).
When something interesting happens in local education, like when the voters change the composition of a local School Board, the Enquirer immediately will criticize any Conservative School Board member. Chief Enquirer attack dog Dan Sewell cannot even imagine any change in education that might be positive—like the Backpack Bill. What a radical idea to allow a parent the right to send their children to a school that is better than what they currently have?
It is disappointing to watch the results of Ohio falter, while other States try new things, and offer parents more opportunities for the kids to grow and prosper. The media plays a large role in this failure and Ohioans need to hold the media accountable for their poor work. In the meantime at least your public school will probably get a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff member this year.