Sunday, December 8, 2019
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Gov. John Kasich on education-related issues

Voxitatis doesn’t endorse candidates for any political office, including school boards. However, we can weigh in on the Republican nomination, which is about to begin on February 1 with the caucuses in Iowa, because our role as commentator on education issues demands it.


Mr Kasich (inset) delivers the State of the State as workers protest (JD Pooley and Mike Munden/Getty Images)

I believe the two front-runners at this early stage, Donald J Trump and Ted Cruz, aren’t fit to be president, and neither one has spoken much about education during the campaign. Mr Trump and his willingness to insult every subgroup other than white Christian males—and his debasement of a book in the Bible probably leaves only white males in the non-insulted group—and Mr Cruz’s flat tax, which would annihilate any remnant of the middle class we have left, or his promise to carpet bomb Syrian villages, have truly pegged my respect for the Republican nomination process off-scale low.

Ben Carson, who did issue a plan for education, has spoken with nonsense. He fails to grasp the terrorist situation now facing countries across the globe. Marco Rubio, considered next in line by the polls, who once had a good idea with his “New American Century” philosophy, seems to have left those high ideals for the more “gloom and doom” views of the front-runners.

Jeb Bush, who, like me, supports the Common Core, has always supported privatization and charter schools. For people in this camp, the Common Core is nothing more than a national set of standards they can use for testing and holding schools accountable. His plan’s support for the standards, a position I share, has nothing to do with providing a solid education in math and English for all students in the country; rather, Common Core is a tool he can use to justify the closing of schools, the building of vast charter school networks, and the depriving of an education to several poor children.

John Kasich, the family man who has served not only in the House of Representatives but also as governor of Ohio, strikes me as the only sane one in the bunch. I don’t agree with many of his positions, as he has signed laws that cut at the heart of teachers’ unions and public school funding, including a budget last year that took the state of Ohio out of the PARCC consortium, a multi-state group that provided strong collaboration opportunities for educators in Ohio to learn from those in other states and those in other states to learn from those in Ohio.

Huge charter school networks, including the Gulen charter network now under an FBI probe for illegally channeling education funds to a political movement in Turkey, have shown support for Mr Kasich and his desire to replace traditional public schools with charter school networks. This view is delusional and can lead nowhere but the destruction of public education in Ohio if it is allowed to continue much further. At the national level, although he would certainly bring in pro-charter advisers, these changes would face an uphill battle, even with charter schools written into the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

He has also accepted the idea of a constitutional amendment in Ohio banning same-sex marriage, but since the Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, he has found compassion, especially for gay and lesbian people. That takes guts and more than a modicum of political understanding about how the US government works.

“I am for marriage defined between a man and a woman,” the Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying about his decision to attend the same-sex marriage of a family friend.

“If the Supreme Court changes that, those changes have to be respected. And I have a number of friends who are gay, OK? I like them. They know how I feel about this. I’m fine. They want me to go? I care about them, I’ll go. I don’t usually go to weddings of people that I don’t know, OK? I don’t go to 'em. But if somebody that I like is getting married in the traditional sense or in the non-traditional sense, I’m not hung up about it and I’ll be celebrating with them at that point.”

He has also shown compassion and a distinct ability to reach a compromise, which is, I believe, one of the most important qualities in a president. Going in, the man or woman can have leftist or rightist tendencies, but sticking to those guns will prove ineffective when they step into the Oval Office as the leader of the free world. The US is split right down the middle politically, as is to be expected, and the only way to govern effectively is from the middle.

On the downside, Mr Kasich has also signed legislation that, for example, requires women to have a vaginal ultrasound before an abortion. It’s hard to believe he would be for restricting the government’s involvement in the classroom while he’s against restricting the government’s involvement in a woman’s medical care.

In addition, although he doesn’t deny climate change, a far superior position than many of his Republican opponents have, he is of the school that we should give up on trying to do something to change the course of “nature,” since all our efforts would be futile. This “attitude” could be seen as consistent with other decisions he has made as governor, including his altogether tacit, post-Obergefell acknowledgment of gay rights.

Aside from politics, Mr Kasich’s history is mainly in banking, as he joined the investment banking division as a managing director at Lehman Brothers in 2001. He worked there until the firm declared bankruptcy in 2008, and he received a little more than a paltry $400,000 in bonuses that year. His salary at Lehman Brothers was as high as $182,692 a year.

But, when faced with the dilemma of allowing uninsured residents of the state to remain so, he expanded the state’s Medicaid program under Obamacare, finding a way to get around the Republican-controlled legislature. That took some political will, a sign of strength in a leader.

The infrastructure in Ohio is all but crumbling around him, though: the lead poisoning in one Ohio town isn’t as bad as it is in Flint, Michigan, but the quality of roads, streets, bridges, and so on has declined under Mr Kasich’s leadership, owing to his devotion to financial management, a position that is too close to that of Gov Rick Snyder in Michigan.

His numbers in managing the state’s finances look good, although “balanced” federal budgets have often led to depressions or, in the case of Clinton’s surpluses, a recession. There’s a lot to be said for Keynesian economics, and many people know he took money away from local governments, money they relied upon, to balance the budget at the state level. I doubt much of Mr Kasich’s Ohio-like shell game would fly at the national level anyway.

Therefore, among a Republican pre-primary field filled with sound and fury, I wish him well in the primaries, though he is a decided underdog.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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