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Just when it appeared that Democrats in Ohio were heading into the statewide election in November



Published: Sun, July 20, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Just when it appeared that Democrats in Ohio were heading into the statewide election in November without a defining issue, along comes “The Turkish Connection” to Ohio’s charter schools to put Republicans on the hot seat.

How hot is that seat?

Last week, Republican State Auditor David Yost bristled at the suggestion by this writer that he would be pressured by his party into keeping the results of a special audit on charter schools under wraps until after the Nov. 4 general election.

Yost correctly pointed out that he took on Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly over the secrecy that shrouds JobsOhio, the state’s quasi-public economic development entity. The state auditor, a former county prosecutor and journalist, has not shied away from politically sensitive issues and is going after the charter school industry — launched two decades ago by Republicans in Columbus — with a vengeance.

The recent in-depth stories in the Akron Beacon Journal about a chain of 19 publicly funded Ohio charter schools, founded by Turkish immigrants, have given Yost even more reason to look into the expenditure of public dollars and the accountability of data submitted by the charters.

‘Sweeping allegations’

The “Turkish Connection” to the extremely lucrative charter industry has not only triggered extensive press coverage, but “sweeping allegations of test cheating, attendance tampering, improper sexual conduct and other misdeed,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The allegations from four former teachers from the Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School in Dayton have prompted the State Board of Education to launch an immediate investigation.

The Dayton school is one of the 19 Horizon Science academies — there’s one in Youngstown — that are publicly funded and privately operated, like all charter schools.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been redirected from public schools to charters over the two decades, but there has been little accountability or state oversight of the expenditures.

State Republican officeholders have been unwavering in their support of charters, which is why the latest news stories and investigations by the state auditor and the state board of education spell trouble for Republican Gov. John Kasich and other Republicans seeking re-election or election this year.

It could well be a defining issue like the state employees collective bargaining reform law that was soundly rejected in 2011 by Ohioans in a referendum vote.

The Republicans are still licking their wounds from that election, and this year were bracing for another union-Democratic Party political juggernaut.

There had been talk of a right-to-work constitutional amendment appearing on the November ballot, but Gov. Kasich and others made it clear that it was dead on arrival.

Thus, Democrats have been struggling to find another collective bargaining-type issue to ignite the passions of the party faithful.

They certainly seemed to have found it in the charter schools, but more specifically in the ones founded by Turkish immigrants.

It isn’t that individuals coming from a Muslim country should be prohibited from opening charters — after all, Christian schools abound — but it’s what the Beacon Journal found in its investigation that will resonate with the electorate.

Importing Turks

Contending that the United States lacks a qualified pool of math and science teachers, the Turkish owners of the schools have been importing “perhaps hundreds of Turks to fill the void,” according to the newspaper.

But it doesn’t stop there. As early as 2002, state audits found thousands of public dollars “illegally expended” to finance the U.S. citizenship process for Turkish employees. Some of them are fresh out of college with no classroom experience and broken English.

Help with legal and immigration fees also extended to their children and families, including the spouses of the directors.

If the Ohio Democratic Party cannot take this information and all the other alleged illegal activities and turn them into a political campaign, it does not deserve big-league political status.

This issue is heaven-sent.


Comments

1NoBS(1963 comments)posted 3 months ago

As much as the Republican party is like a ship without a rudder in the Mahoning Valley, the Democrat party appears that lost on the state level. From their selecting a complete unknown as their gubernatorial candidate (and a couple of faux pas with lieutenant governors, just to add icing on the cake) to their dropping the ball with regard to making the most of the ammunition the Republicans are handing them, it's as if the Dems have given up on the state level.

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2steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

***double yawn***

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3steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

Your insults are more a reflection on you than they are on me.

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4Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 3 months ago

WOW! This is a serious issue. Some of you yawn or whatever you do, but it's only because you haven't read the article and if you did read the article and still yawn, well, you are simply a dumba$s.

In months to years from now, you precious and hypocritical xians may have your children being educated AND influenced by Muslims, and more.

I say bring on the Muslims. I certainly have had enough of you "do what you want to do" xians. At least the Muslims take their religion seriously.

Anyway, this won't affect Kasich. He has his own puppets taking the heat. And as for the voting public, especially the 'holier than thou xians', nothing but ants at a picnic.

Another great article Bert. Thank you sincerely.

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5Silence_Dogood(1356 comments)posted 3 months ago

Yawzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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6walter_sobchak(1922 comments)posted 3 months ago

Bert,
Even though these ALLEGATIONS about the Turkish Charter Schools may hurt the Gov., it's not like these are the only schools where these problem exist. The Columbus City Schools now have a shortage of competent administrators due to grade changing and attendance tampering and they're not a charter. Yeah, I think the Turkish Charter Schools and JobsOhio will keep Kasich victory margin to about 12 points over Cousin Eddie Fitzgerald. ANd, in case you haven't noticed, Bert, The Ohio General Assembly still has not changed the way we fund Govt Schools in Ohio in violation of a court order.

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7steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

While the Turkish charter schools should be stopped, in general, charter schools are a giant step in the right direction.

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8steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

This is such an important issue that we are overlooking why Kasich has allowed The Ohio Department of Natural Resources to expanding its interactive oil and gas viewer.

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9steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

Yawn, nitwit, yawn

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10steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

Yawn,nitwit, yawn

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11liberty22(10 comments)posted 3 months ago

The main point is that IT IS NOT THE DISTRICT's MONEY------IT's THE STUDENT's MONEY, and it follows the student, via the choice of the parent. The parent has the choice/right to pull their child from an academically challenged building. It's the law. As the law was constructed, charter schools have MORE accountability than traditional schools. Charter schools report attendance figures on a monthly basis, traditional districts report it once a year, often negating constructive student attendance measures. The attendance "scrubbing" scandals, plaguing many traditional school districts, could never happen in charter schools.

After three years, poor performing charter schools are closed, as they should be. Under similar criteria, the Youngstown Schools would have been closed 30 years ago. Fiscal issues cause consistent state supervision of the Youngstown district. Why does the city district get a perpetual pass for decades of dismal academic and fiscal performance? The city district, not charter schools, should be labeled as unaccountable. City taxpayers roll their eyes when they see a NEWLY BUILT, VACANT Volney Rogers building.

Charter schools should be compared to the home districts they service.

Stambaugh Academy, Horizon Youngstown, and the Youngstown Community School consistently out perform their Youngstown district counterparts.

The main question, NEVER addressed, is this: WHY ARE THE STUDENTS/PARENTS LEAVING THEIR HOME DISTRICT?

Instead of throwing the stone, districts need to reexamine their academic and fiscal policies, while working with charter schools for the benefit of city students.

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12Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 3 months ago

@ steivo:

Yawn all you want, but check out this article-

http://www.vindy.com/news/2014/jul/20...

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13steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months ago

If this is all the Democratic hacks can come up with to challenge Kasich, this is going to be a lot easier than I thought.

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14stievo(17 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

***yawn***. I do that a lot. Trolling Vindy.com all day and night is tiring. I need to get a J-O-B.

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