State Officials Deserve an “F” Not Our Kids and Teachers

Our public schools are important to Lakewood. They’re important to me, too; my wife and I look forward to sending our children to good Lakewood schools when we start a family.

So I want to share a few thoughts about Lakewood’s “report card” which Ohio’s Department of Education released last week. This included three Cs, one D and an F.

I think the whole statewide report card system deserves an F, for fraud.

I met with some employees from our school district, shortly after the report card came out. They called Ohio’s report card system inconsistent, counterproductive, and fundamentally “bogus.” I have looked into it since, and all of their objections are substantive. The report card leaves out not only external factors that influence students’ performance, like income level, but ignores entire categories of student experience. In particular the diversity in Lakewood schools is not counted at all, yet preparing young people to deal with a diverse America has enormous, real value to them and to society.

The report card standards also shift, year after year, making the report cards unhelpful even for comparisons over time within one school district. The Department of Education acknowledges most of this, too. The Columbus Dispatch wrote that state officials have warned “Don’t make direct comparisons between these scores and past scores until the system has stabilized after a few years.” The state superintendent admits that report cards “aren’t the only gauge of a school’s or district’s achievement.”

My commitment to you

Two questions come up, repeatedly, as I’m talking with people in Lakewood:

  1. “Will you fight for the community?”
  2. “Will you be able to get anything done?”

I will fight for the community. I decided to run because I saw a lack of leadership. I have seen what happens when public servants let special interests and pride sway their decisions. It’s clear something has to change.

I’m not bought, and I don’t have connections to the political establishment. They know better than to try to buy me off; if they do I will let the public know what they’re up to. I do not accept corporate contributions. I will not be taking money or favors from our current city officials. If they send me a check, it will be returned.

I guarantee I will get more done than current incumbents. That’s an easy promise to keep because I am already working hard to understand your needs, and plan to work even harder to implement positive changes that meet those needs.

Privatize This

From Medicare to our local recycling and refuse services, the signs are abundant, what has historically been owned by the public, is slipping into the for-profit sector. The justifications are simple enough. Our leaders tell us, “either we raise your taxes, or we outsource this service or department.” This message isn’t crafted by local politicians looking for ways to make their communities better. When you hear, “this partnership with Private Company X is a win, win.” take a deep breath, and think about this…

On a national scale, Medicare has been moving more into the private insurance sector and may end up as a voucher program. The United States Military has increased its reliance on contract workers at home and overseas. Often some of the most dangerous jobs in the Military are outsourced to private firms with little or no oversight. Our criminal justice system has become reliant on private prisons which rank as some of the worst prisons in the world, in more ways than one. All in the name of freedom, free markets, and efficiency.

Closer to home, our communities are turning over ownership and control of many aspects of their public services. Garbage collection, in many cities, has been contracted to private companies. Unionized sanitation engineers are replaced by workers who often work longer hours, for less pay and fewer benefits. 2014 in Lakewood, Ohio, every refuse driver made at least $50,000 per year, according to Ohio’s Treasurer. Waste Management, a Fortune 500 refuse service, pays entry-level drivers $16 per hour with a median for all truck drivers being just $16.48, according to self-reported data. Another source reported some drivers starting closer to the federal minimum wage.