WVXU’s Howard Wilkinson Blasts Matt Huffman, Ohio GOP for Latest Education Power Grab
November 18, 2022
Columbus, OH — Today, WVXU columnist Howard Wilkinson took Matt Huffman and the Ohio GOP to task for their latest attempt to attack our kids and consolidate political power by making the State Board of Education powerless. Huffman’s move would shift most powers of the mostly-elected Board to a cabinet level position so that an unelected bureaucrat could launch political attacks on our students without any accountability. The purely political move comes after Ohio Democrats won three key seats on the Board after last week’s election.
“If the Republicans’ veto-proof super-majority in the Ohio General Assembly sees any corner of state or local government that does not totally align with their view of the world, they will step in and crush it. They will steamroll over it and make it disappear.The Ohio Senate, led by Senate President Matt Huffman, found a very important corner to obliterate this week — the Ohio Board of Education,” writes Wilkinson.
Read more from Wilkinson here and below:
- If the Republicans’ veto-proof super-majority in the Ohio General Assembly sees any corner of state or local government that does not totally align with their view of the world, they will step in and crush it. They will steamroll over it and make it disappear.
- The Ohio Senate, led by Senate President Matt Huffman, found a very important corner to obliterate this week — the Ohio Board of Education.
- When the Ohio Senate went into lame-duck session this week, one of the first items on the agenda was to resurrect an idea that has failed in the past but will likely succeed this time because of the overwhelming Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.
- The idea is to strip the state board of education, where 11 of the 19 members are elected from districts, of nearly all of its authority and place it all in a new cabinet-level position called the Department of Education and Workforce.
- And, of course, that would be a department in the cabinet of the recently re-elected Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who rarely has a public disagreement with the GOP legislative leadership over anything. And, even if he did, there is nothing DeWine could do about it. Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the legislature.
- So why now? Why did it suddenly become priority number one for the legislature?
- Does it have anything to do with the fact that, in the general election, candidates backed by the Ohio Democratic Party and Ohio’s teachers’ unions won all three open seats on the Ohio Board of Education, defeating all of the GOP-backed, conservative candidates?
- You’d better believe it does.
- “It’s nothing but a power grab,” said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “The state board of education is one place where differing opinions are discussed and the Republicans in the legislature don’t like that.”
- “When they try to do this a week after losing three seats on the Board of Education, my level of cynicism rises,” said Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. “The governor already has enormous influence over public education in Ohio. Why does he need more? It’s all political.”
- Efforts to reach Huffman through the Ohio Senate Majority Office went unanswered.
- “People are going to have to find ways to voice their beliefs,” Cropper said. “We will push back against those that do not benefit children in public education.”