Though this is a local story, I believe it deserves wider attention. That's because it likely reflects an attitude frequently found in local media around the nation.
A January 21 story at the Cincinnati Enquirer worried that fiscally conservative candidates who have begun winning local school board elections "may be philosophically opposed to the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" – as if that's automatically a bad thing. Here's some context the Enquirer's Michael D. Clark "somehow" forgot to include: "40% of Ohioans need remedial math or English in college." Gee, maybe "the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" isn't working. Clark also let a former local school board president engage in an unhinged rant about "those that have a goal to destroy public education." Excerpts follow the jump (a related video called "Radical School Boards" — how objective — is here; bolds are mine):
Fiscal conservatives rule more local school boards
Power shift could affect taxes, spending, Common Core, curriculum
... For the first time in the region, candidates who go by a variety of self-applied labels – fiscal conservatives, anti-tax activists, tea party activists – have won what appear to be majorities on local school boards and wield wide control over school policy choices and millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
... Some just-seated board members have already announced they will oppose the new Common Core standards being implemented in Ohio.
Others say they will oppose any tax hikes for new programs and raises for school employees.
... for now the West Clermont school board is the most visible flashpoint.
... The first meeting of the new board last week was preceded by a pre-meeting rally of concerned residents, who then marched en masse into a packed meeting room, outnumbering board supporters and forcing an overflow crowd into the hall.
Some sharply criticized the three new board members just minutes after they were sworn into office.
... “They wanted to hang us in effigy before we have done anything,” said new board member Jim Lewis, who proudly proclaims his tea party affiliation on the school board’s website.
... recently retired Lakota school board President Joan Powell – a 16-year board veteran and one of the most influential school officials in the region during her tenure – wonders whether the publicly stated goals of some new board members match their political agendas.
“Unfortunately some of these individuals are not just interested in reducing expenses and maintaining taxes at their current level. There are those that have a goal to destroy public education as it exists – government schools, they call them – and use anti-tax and pro-voucher issues to reduce funding to schools to help reach that goal,” she said.
Gosh, I wonder how much of that first meeting's opposition was ginned up by the district's teachers union and administrators attempting to defend indefensibly high salaries?
Seeing Ms. Powell rant about hidden "political agendas" is rich, given that (to name just one example) Common Core's enactment was all about politics. It went around state legislatures by bribing state governors and state school boards with Race to the Top stimulus money. They then found pliant individual legislators to insert seemingly harmless language into budget bills and — voila! — Common Core became "the law" without most legislators and voters even knowing it. The vast majority of parents and legislators oppose Common Core once they fully understand it.
Maybe Greater Cincinnati is unique, but I doubt. I suspect that the local establishment press around the country is not inclined to give conservative activists on school boards anything even resembling the benefit of the doubt.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.