An Ohio-based newspaper focused on the state education board’s history and current make-up . Homeschooling and other private schooling, along with non-traditional public schools, came under the reporter’s scrutiny.
Ohio’s state school board shifts emphasis from traditional public schools to parent-driven choice
By Doug Livingston
It’s more difficult to quantify opinions of board members regarding the mission of education dollars, but it is clear that more than half the board represents a paradigm shift away from Ohio education as a system of traditional public school districts run by elected school boards.
The majority supports market-driven school choice, which in Ohio means transferring dollars from traditional public schools to charter and private schools. They want to hold traditional schools and teachers accountable for performance, but say parents have the right to choose charter or private schools that today are not held to the same academic and financial accountability.
Charter schools might have some quality issues, but they are public schools with public funding. Private schools have expectations that are a little more personal, as in big chunks from the family checkbook, along with strong parental oversight. If the state and local public school officials want to oversee private schools, it seems logical that taxpaying families using private schools would like some representation and say-so about the regulations and rules public schools try inserting into private schools, specifically homeschoolers.
After pointing out the changes in numbers of elected and governor-appointed members forming a hybrid board, the Akron Beacon Journal then lamented one elected representative, Sarah Fowler, who was always home educated.
Home schoolers, who strongly oppose government intrusion into their business and represent about 2 percent of the student population, unified last year to elect one member from rural Northeast Ohio. Their representative has never had a relationship with public education and identified her primary mission as assuring that home schooling is left alone.
Seeing the Akron Beacon Journal (ABJ) bringing up homeschooling reminded me of the multi-article smear job they did on Ohio homeschoolers several years ago. It appears the ABJ is not fond of Governor Kasich, his supporters and educational agenda. Their aim was in Kasich’s direction. But unfortunately true to past form, the ABJ also posted their shock of Sarah Fowler’s priorities.
Sarah Fowler: Home-schooled board member places Constitution and parents ahead of government
By Doug Livingston and Lee Murray
Sarah Fowler is a home-schooled former egg farmer from rural Ashtabula County and has had no formal relationship with organized, publicly funded education.
She ran her own small business selling eggs for 12 years and working on her family’s farm. One of seven children, she continues to work for the family business doing graphic design, sales, marketing and bookkeeping.
At age 25, she is by far the youngest on the state board.
With her accomplishments at her young age, we could also celebrate her practical experience and accountability running a small business. It appears she had much support outside the homeschool community too. From the ABJ spotlight:
Her campaign, a “grass-roots” effort spearheaded by immediate family, drew financial support from small rural organizations and businesses, such as cheese manufacturers and garden supply stores. These small contributions, along with many small donations from private individuals, stacked up to a successful race against a lawyer and a chemist.
She won by a landslide and started her two-year term in January.
Watching Ohio homeschooling friends suffer through ABJ‘s onslaught in 2005 was painful. The Akron Beacon Journal seems to have a narrow view of education, while pursuing an agenda that would make any national teachers union happy. Reporting the news, rather than trying to shape it, seems more transparent and informative.