Sunday, August 30, 2009


A couple of Lake Township residents contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation with complaints about a part of Lake Local School's Mission Statement. Lake is the home district of the SCPR and three Olson children graduated from Lake and the Mrs. served on the Lake Board of Education twice.

The first thing that occurred to yours truly is how the mission statements of Stark's other 16 school districts compare to Lake's.

Today we compare Lake"s controversial statement to that of the Canton City schools.

No mention of God in Canton City schools statement of Mission, Vision and Beliefs.

Why not?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


A couple of Lake Township residents contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation with complaints about a part of Lake Local School's Mission Statement. Lake is the home district of the SCPR and three Olson children graduated from Lake and the Mrs. served on the Lake Board of Education twice.

The first thing that occurred to yours truly is how the mission statements of Stark's other 16 school districts compare to Lake's.

Today we compare Lake"s controversial statement to that of the Alliance City schools.

No mention of God in Alliance.

Why not?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


As a rule public school board members and do not respond to media requests for answers to questions.

Since yours truly has been blogging on Stark County political issues and education issues, the "blow-off" rate by Stark County board members and officials they hire to run the public institutions has been very high.

One of this is not James Carmen, Jr., president of the Canton City Schools Board of Education.

So he is an "exception" to the rule and is a model for all Stark County education officials to follow.

Board members and school officials across Stark County wonder why they have troubles getting public participation and public financial support. It is no mystery to the SCPR. Far too many board members and school administrators - over many years now - have "blown off" the public. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Only the likes of James Carman, Jr. and his accessibility/openess offer any hope to reversing the public negativity. But it is going to be a long road back even if they were to adopt the Caman model today.

A reader of the SCPR asked yours truly to get some answers on a matter of concern on a neighborhood issue involving the Canton City Schools and the former Lehman High School/Junior High School building.

Here is the question:
... [Regarding Lehman] the "new" building was sold to the public with a "plan" for the use of the old building. But, neither the school district nor the city have done anything with the old building except let it sit there and decay, with the decay spreading to the neighborhood. The CCS and the city both say that no one will buy it....but what methods have they used to try and sell it? Even if they sold it for $1.00 it would be used by someone else, and the neighborhood would improve. Let them sell it on ebay or something creative like that!
Here is Canton City Schools board president James Carmen, Jr's answer (bulleted by the SCPR for structural clarity):

  • Unfortunately as for the public being told there was a plan for the old building when construction of the new building was announced, I have to apologize and admit I don't know what that plan would have been.
  • The district wide renovation project that was done in partnership with the Ohio School Facilities Committee was planned in 1999 and begun shortly there after.
  • The plan was done in partnership with the OSFC, the school district's administration and the board of education. Since that time the OSFC has gone through many configurations and the district has had four different superintendents, two business managers and there is currently no board member serving that was on the board at the time.
  • If there was some sort of plan for the building established at the time it has apparently been lost through the transitions.
  • Honestly, I am not sure why there was not money allocated for the demolition of the old building as was the case with several of our other buildings (Cedar Elem, Worley Elem and Belden Elem just to name a few). My only guess would be that Lehman Middle School was, up until 1976, Lehman High School and several influential citizens are alumni from that building which may have made the idea of demolition unattractive at the time.
  • .... What I do know, is that we currently have a decaying building that we are responsible for and we need to either find a use for the building or find money for demolition. Currently we are exploring both options. Demolition is estimated to cost in excess of $1 million and the district currently does not have the funds available for such a project. The district has also been working with local developers to try and find someone interested in renovating the building (early estimates on renovation have ranged from $10 to $15 million), to date we have been unsuccessful in our efforts. In the meantime, we have met with both the Lehman neighborhood association and the Lehman alumni association to combine our efforts to find a use for the site. We have also taken steps to better secure the building to hopefully stop future vandalism.
  • As for your emailer's suggestion to randomly sell the building on ebay for $1.00, that is actually something we have promised the neighborhood association we would not do. Whether the building is renovated or torn down there is a hefty price tag associated with it and we do not want to turn the building over to a private individual that does not have the means to do something with the property. If a private individual is holding the building, the neighbors have very little say, if we continue to hold the property the neighbors can have more input in what happens to it. They also can hold us accountable if they do not feel it is being maintained properly, which they have recently done.
  • The district was not doing a good job in maintaining the property and we have committed to the neighbors that we will do a better job.
  • ... we are working to do something with the property as soon as possible and we are doing everything we can to keep it from being a problem for the neighborhood.
To the SCPR, this is a splendid example of being accountable!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) has long believed that "behind the scenes" many of Stark County's school superintendents get involved in who is going to sit on their districts' boards of education.

Each of the county boards have 5 elected members and they run as "nonpartisans."

Yours truly does not believe for one minute that board of educations races are "really" nonpartisan.

Moreover, depending on who sits on the boards, the life of superintendent can be an "easy street - rubber stamp" existence or they just might have to answer a continuing parade of incisive questions.

If you were superintendent, which would you prefer?

Superintendents work hard at creating the impression that they deal with the hand they are dealt. But the SCPR thinks all too often, some work equally hard (underground) to ensure that they have compliant board members and the hoped for "impression" in reality is an "illusion."

What is going on in Canal Fulton/Clinton/Lawrence Township (Northwest Local School District) may be a case study of a superintendent who is heavily involved in orchestrating the make up of the board he has to work with.

William Stetler is the superintendent at Northwest. Stetler is a person that yours truly knows pretty well inasmuch as he was last (other than a gap at the Ohio Department of Education as the appointee of now politically deposed former state superintendent Susan Zelman [ousted by Governor Strickland]) superintendent in The Report's home district - Lake.

In fact, yours truly's spouse (Mary) served on the Lake Board while Stetler was superintendent.

One of the reasons that Mary ran (at the urging of yours truly) was because it appeared to me that some political gaming was going on and that an "approved" candidate was waiting in the wings waiting to file a petition at the last moment. Only two had filed right up to near or at the filing deadline for three positions. As it turned out, had Mary not filed, the election for Lake for the three "open" slots for the board would not have been a competitive process. Moreover, Mary does dig in and ask incisive questions.

Mary had served on the Lake board previously while Robert Dunnerstick was superintendent. Even her election in the Dunnerstick era was as a superintendent "nonfavored" candidate.

In 2007 she decided it was time to run for the Stark County Educational Service Center (which was formerly known as the Stark County Board of Education). And lo and behold what did she find? What appears to me to be another, "approved" candidate.

Ironically, yours truly believes the "approved" candidate to have been Robert "Skip" Blowers who at the time was a member of the Northwest School District Board of Education.

But if the SCPR is correct in this analysis, "the best laid plans of mice and men" did not work. Mary was elected.

The moral of the story for voters for boards of education candidates is that they should seek to find out who the "superintendent" favors.

Why so?

Well, the SCPR imagines that many superintendents favor board members who will accept the wisdom of the superintendent and his fellow administrators unflinchingly and are loathe to ask penetrating questions, or, heaven forbid, might even vote "no" on the administration recommended action here and there.

School districts which lack scrutinizing board members get into trouble with the voting public very quickly.

Decisions not properly vetted start falling apart which causes community members to get upset which over time leads to distrust and concomitant hostility between the community and the schools.

It all leads back to the superintendents trying to create a cushy environment for themselves and their administration.

Is this what is happening in Northwest?


A week or so ago, The Report noticed that Nicole Metzger (appointed to fill the term of her husband who tragically died earlier this year) had added a petition.

Her first petition was for one of the "regularly" expiring terms. Her second (only added very recently) was for one of the two "unexpired" terms. Board president Steven Jones filed for an "unexpired" term as did former Canal Fulton councilman Victor Colaianni.

The SCPR's take on this turn of events?

Yours truly thinks that Victor Colaianni is persona non grata from the administration's point of view.

As things stood before Metzer pulled her "unexpired term" petition, Colaianni was going to become a board member (unless someone else stepped in at the last minute to file a petition) because there were two vacancies, two candidates.

Why would Stetler et al (and probably some of the sitting board members) object to Colaianni?

Victor is not as good a questioner as he thinks in his own mind, but he is not likely to be the rubber stamp that Jones and Metzger have demonstrated in their time on the board. However, Stetler and friends might be surprised. Colaianni was not exactly a beacon of inquiry when he served on the Canal Fulton City Council.

A second more subtle reason might be that Stetler and his administrative team see an embarrassing potential conflict-in-interest in the offing if Colaianni is elected.

Public records show that Victor lives at 1708 Bruce St NW, Canal Fulton, Ohio, apparently as a renter.


Well, it so happens that 1708 Bruce Street is owned by John Hexamer who is assistant superintendent of the Northwest Local School District. The ties are shown from redacted public records displayed below.

Could it be that the administration doesn't have the heart to tell Victor that it is not a good idea for him to be on the Northwest school board for a perceived possible "conflict-in-interest" problem and that the Metzger switch is the way to deal with the situation?

More likely, to the SCPR's way of thinking, is Colaianni is an unknown quantity and therefore it is better to be safe rather than sorry.

When you add the above articulated SCPR speculated political intrigue with the Board's history of appointing to board vacancy spots without taking applications from the public-at-large, it is no wonder that Northwest has "trust" problems with its voting public.

The overall moral to the story for this blog is that superintendents make a huge mistake in their and the board of educations members' relationships with the public-at-large when they work backstage to create ideal working conditions for themselves.

Will superintendents ever figure out, that in the end, clandestine efforts to fashion board of education makeup are counterproductive to their own trustworthiness and builds into an insidious undermining of the public's confidence in how public schools are run?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Stark Countians have witnessed how many U.S workers have worked a lifetime to have retirement benefits only to loose them when companies go into bankruptcy.

Could the same thing happen to the professional class in America?

When Enron went belly up a number of years ago, the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) lost millions of dollars. Some of us wanted to pointed the finger at the then state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - 51st) chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) for not putting in safeguards in place to prevent the losses.

Yours truly has never seen Schuring madder.

At a meeting at the North Canton Community Christian Church to explain to Stark County's teachers what responsibility he bore for the oversight malfunction of STRS investors; the red faced, angered Schuring vehemently denied any neglect.

Mad or not, the SCPR believes that Schuring and his fellows on the ORSC were asleep then and, perhaps, the slumber continues.

Today, the SCPR received an e-mail from STRS that indicated that a statutorily mandated requirement that it be able to fund teacher pensions out 30 years had slipped to 41.2 years as of July, 2008 and now in 2009 to - get this - INFINITY!

Here's the quote from the e-mail:

Even with these changes, the funding period for the pension fund stood at 41.2 years on July 1, 2008.  This means that based on the value of investment assets at that time, we expected to pay off all unfunded liabilities over the next 41 years by achieving an 8% annual rate of return and meeting all other actuarial assumptions.  However, due to the recession, the market value of our investment assets declined by about $24 billion over the past two fiscal years.  As a result, STRS Ohio's unfunded liability almost doubled in just one year and the funding period now stands at "infinity." (emphasis added) 
It wasn't until May, 2009 that Schuring and his fellows at the ORSC caught on.

In May according to the STRS e-mail:
[T]he Ohio Retirement Study Council, which is the legislative oversight body for Ohio's five public pension systems, instructed each system in May to present board-approved plans for achieving or maintaining a 30-year funding period at the ORSC's Sept. 9 meeting.
What are the options that the ORSC will be considering for STRS?

Here they are:
  • Increasing contributions from the current 10% from active teachers and/or 14% from employers.
  • Instituting a minimum retirement age or years of service for retirement.
  • Increasing the number of years used to calculate final average salary to five from three.
  • Changing the formula for calculating pensions.
  • Changing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
No action is expected by the Ohio Retirement Study Council until its October, 2009 meeting.  Even if ORSC acts in October, it could take months before corrective legislative action can be taken and enacted into law (getting the governor's signature) before the "infinity" timetable has a finite number put on it.

What will the finite number be? 50 years? 60 years? 70 years?

Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager (who likes to invoke his teacher parents as proof he looks out for teacher interests) have been roundly criticized by yours truly primarily because they violate the "spirit" of Ohio's term limits (switching back and forth between the 29th (Ohio Senate) and the 51st (Ohio House).

But there are other reasons why this duo need to be via election term limited by Stark Countians.

Of course, there is Schuring and his "failure to protect" the retirement of Stark County's teachers.

And, there is the failure to be in the lead in fixing the funding of Ohio's public schools ruled unconstitutional four times by the Ohio Supreme Court (DeRolfe) What is particularly galling about this pair is that they were members of the majority party (supermajority - veto proof) with a sitting Republican governor for a good portion of their time in the Legislature.

Moreover, the larger picture is that only thing that this duo has produced of consequence over their years in the Ohio General Assembly is Oelslager's work on open records.

Does anyone remember Schuring's "I'm going to fix the public schools funding problem" by way of constitutional amendment that never got off the ground? It was a pipe dream from the beginning. Even if it had gotten through the Ohio General Assembly, Governor Strickland was going to veto the provision because he had to protect his "I love him like a brother" protege John Boccieri.

The SCPR believes that Schuring was never serious about the effort. It was designed to get free ink for the impending campaign against Boccieri; nothing more.

Schuring's and Oelslager's legislative record is pathetic and if Stark Countians continue to send them back to Columbus, then we Stark Countians, are part of our own problem.

One out for the voters is that the Stark County Democratic Party has put sacrificial lamb after sacrificial lamb up against these two election after election after election.

Will current Stark Democratic Party chair Randy Gonzalez do better than the recently resigned Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.?

For the SCPR, this will be a litmus test as to whether or not Gonzalez is going to pay more attention to the electability and the quality of the party's candidates than Maier did during his tenure.

From the looks of how Schuring and Oelslager have not looked after education-in-general and educators-in-particular; those with a vested interest in STRS ought to be demanding that Gonzalez and the Democrats over a serious alternative come November, 2009.

But will they?

Probably not. That would mean educators getting their hands dirty in the messy world of politics.

That "above-it-all-attitude," even when self-interest compels action, is exactly what Schuring and Oelslager rely on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


In order to repair its relationship with the Canal Fulton, Clinton and Lawrence Township community (CCLT), the Northwest Local School District (NWLSD) has a job to do making sure that CCLT folks are informed about the schools.

Most of the respondants to the Northwest Local Schools 2009 Community Survey (NWLS2009CS) conducted in June, 2009 feel they are informed about the local schools system.
But are they?

Area media have published numerous articles about the financial straits of the Northwest schools as a consequence of citizens' refusal to vote for operating levies for 10 successive tries and the Ohio Department of Education placing Northwest in its "fiscal caution" category of Ohio schools in financial trouble in July, 2008.
And yet as the following graph shows, nearly 7 out 10 survey respondents were "unaware" that Northwest schools were in financial distress.

Later in this series, the SCPR will show data from the NWLS2009CS showing that schools/citizen communication is not a Northwest school board and administration strength.

In the opinion of the SCPR, the only way the Northwest schools will make CCLT citizenry a "truly" informed body is for board members to "hit the road" and embark on a systematic and thorough person-to-person contact on an annual basis.

But will they do it?

Probably not.

Many if not most board members have an unrealistic take on the hard work that is inherent in being an effective board member. One of the hardest parts is finding a way (home visits, personal letters, e-mails, telephone calls and the like) to be in one-on-one contact with community members.

Numbers from this survey (which the SCPR does not believe incorporates much of the hard core resistance to a new operating levy and which the SCPR will publish in future volumes in this series), indicate a high amount of distrust of the Northwest board and administration from the "more school friendly part" of the CCLT community.

Unless and until the board makes a focused and continuing effort to get into a one-on-one dialogue with the community, the distrust is likely to persist and, perhaps, worsen.

Getting a levy passed in an environment of distrust in Northwest or in any school district very unlikely.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Recently, the Northwest schools decided it need to get out in the community to do a survey to document what almost certainly the board members already intuitively knew: Northwest schools have a community credibility problem.

So you have a school district on financial "life support" that somehow could did up $13,000 plus to learn what they already knew but did not get into the core of the opposition group of voters to the 10 time failed levies.

Over a period of time the SCPR is going to be slicing and dicing that survey for which the field work was done June 11 through June 13, 2009.

It might come to mind to SCPR readers that this series only pertains to Canal Fulton, Clinton and Lawrence Township readers of the blog.

But hold on a minute.

There are problems out there across Stark County with all of the 17 school districts. Jackson and Plain schools only recently passed "survivor" level levies. Soon they will be back for more. Minerva, Fairless and Norrtwest face immediate financial crises.

However, there are more waiting in the wings. Most likely all of the remaining districts with North Canton at the head of the list.

Lake schools have to be particularly nervous given the fact that they were bounced by the voters 70% to 30% on a school bond issue within the past year.

So all you readers need to be applying the lessons of this serious to your own school district.


To the SCPR, to get rejected by the voters in 10 straight elections is proof enough in and of itself to establish that the voters do not trust the judgment of school administrators and board members to take their word for it that more funds are needed to keep the schools afloat and that they will be spent judiciously and wisely.

The SCPR has scanned through through the "Northwest Local Schools 2009 Community Survey" (NLS2009CS) and over the coming weeks and, perhaps, months will go over the survey with a fine toothed comb.

What strikes the SCPR right out of the gate is how clearly "cherry-picked" the participants of the survey were. Obviously, this survey went in the main to school district constituents who support the schools election-in and election-out. Knowing him as yours truly does, yours truly can see from the make up the survey that Northwest superintendent William Stetler has the major role if not the only role in working with The Impact Group of Hudson, Ohio to put the survey together.

Stetler is a "pollyanish" type who is typical of superintendents these days who are more politician than they are administrator. No doubt there are strong political and public relations factors to getting school levies passed this day and age. However, it has come to a "political and public relations" approach because school administrators and board members have not stayed in close contact with the basic attitude of school district voters.

Also interesting is how The Impact Group describes itself, to wit:

The SCPR's initial take on this believed to be Stetler public relations/political based survey, is that it is not designed to get to the core of community dissatisfaction, but rather to finesse the matter enough to get a "survivor" levy passed.

Stetler really (in the opinion of the SCPR) wanted to try again this November to get a levy passed as witness by the calling of and holding of a special board meeting to air out reported "community interest" in going right back at it with a November effort even in the light a increased voter opposition in November, 2008.

But the Stetler "closet" (in the sense he referred to a phantom groundswell - noted by their absence at the August 5th "special" board meeting) effort failed and the board wisely decided to embark on a "rebuilding public trust" initiative before trying again.

The SCPR has already suggested a mechanism that the board (if they are up to a "roll of the sleeves" effort) can implement to really and truly turn things around in the school district so that passing levies will again be doable. Not easy, but doable.

The same can be done throughout Stark County. Alliance, Canton, Massillon, Jackson, Plain and Lake could be difficult because the populations are significantly larger than most Stark school districts but by employing focus, determination and persistence; even the larger school districts could really get into the nitty gritty of their constituents.

Even though is not impressed with the selected base of The Impact Group survey on the Northwest schools, in the coming time period the SCPR will be parsing the survey with an analysis of what it says about Northwest schools from a cherry-picked - on the whole - respondent group.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


A major problem in Stark County these days, is the build up of mistrust by many of our citizens of Stark's local units of government.

Mistrust is all around us.

Canton and its mayor. Marlboro Township and its trustees. North Canton and some of its citizens. And Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township citizens and their schools.

To be sure, there are quite a number of other examples.

But you get the point.

As does board member Gindlesberger of the Northwest Board of Education.

Gindlesberger is quoted in The Massillon Independent piece No action means no Nov. levy for N'West (at yesterday's meeting [August 5, 2009], which was billed as an exploratory meeting as to whether or not Northwest should make another levy attempt in the face of ten consecutive defeats, as follows:
The trust issue is huge. It’s something that we may not even correct by May. We are not one community. We are two communities and we have to fix that.
Northwest will not pass a levy until it makes substantial progress in re-building trust. Superintendent Stetler can pontificate all he wants to, to wit:
What we are doing is verging on immoral. We can’t do this to our children just because adults can’t get along. We’re going to fight like heck to get an issue passed.
Gindlesberer appears to be, and hopefully the rest of the board is, way ahead of Stetler who talks about a "new strategy - a new offensive plan."

It is about trust and it is not about politically outmaneuvering the voting public as "Stetler talk" seems to suggest.

Let's see, there about 5,000 households in Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township. There are 5 board members. 5,000 divided by 5 equals 1,000. So if each board member were to take on being in touch (via e-mail, snail mail, home visits, telephone calls - whatever works for a particular household) with 1,000 households over the course of a calendar year, maybe just maybe, you would have the beginnings of re-building trust in the Northwest Local School District.

Over a five year cycle (by switching 1000 blocks), each board member will have endeavored to be in touch with each and every household in the Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township community.

Rebuilding trust would mean "really listening" to willing community participants. It would mean communicating the "partnership aspect of educating children" to the willing. It would mean a constructing "a climate of willingness to change my point-of-view in the context of rational, factually based dialogue."

The is a huge difference between the "rebuilding trust" model and the Stetler model of "finessing the voter for this election" model.

Board members will remain in the community. The superintendent is not likely to.

The will have continuing accountability, the superintendent will not.

In the news article about the August 5th meeting, there is way to much focus on the superintendent. He is a transitory figure. Stetler has already retired and rehired at Lake. He took a education job in Columbus based on his Republican political ties. When Strickland bounced the Republican, Stetler was history. That's how he ended up back in Stark County to the only superintendent job available to him at the time.

Northwest board members need to reassert control of their schools. The day of the "expert" superintendent fostered by the likes of Stetler and Lambes before him are gone forever. School superintendents are fast losing the public confidence because for the most part they are not community people but merely professional moving through.

So it is up to the abiding Canal Fulton/Northwest element to re-build trust: the local board of education members, that's who.

Can Northwest do it by February?

Probably not.

But today is the day for each and every member of the Northwest Board of Education to begin the challenging task of rebuilding trust in the Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township community!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


When you don't have the moxie to challenge Stark County's leadership to excellence, what is there left to do?

Cheer-lead, that's what.

Even losing teams have cheerleaders.

And cheerleading seems to be a quality that The Canton Repository editorial board is set on honing and emphasizing these days.

For the life of yours truly, there's nothing to cheer about with the Stark Education Partnership (SEP), if you judge the organization by its president Doctor Adrienne O'Neill (PhD) and her interaction with the hoi polli public.

O'Neill is a lady who did not have the good sense to respond to an e-mail question yours truly sent her about the performance of the SEP about a year ago. As the SCPR is wont to do, the unanswered e-mail was followed up with an "embarrassing to her" telephone call. If that had not worked, then at one of her frequent public appearances, the question(s) would have been asked in that forum.

The goal of the SCPR is not to embarrass, but to get answers to incisive questions. and to prod Stark community leaders into questing for excellence. Undoubtedly, on the Stark high brow social circuit O'Neil gets a steady diet of "softball" education questions. Accordingly, she would not be practiced in handling the really difficult ones.

If O'Neill's take on improving Stark education is indicative of what is going on in Stark County education, then we should all embark on a fervent prayer life.

Back to The Repository Editorial Board.

The Rep editorial board picks up O'Neill's and SEP's claim to fame in touting the increasing number of graduates from Stark's high schools (which apparently is the "main claim to fame" achievement stretching over 20 years). The truth of the matter is that rates could not go anywhere but up from the abysmal levels that existed when SEP took up this project. You have to start somewhere.

The more important question of SEP and O'Neil is what do Stark's graduates know (core knowledge) and what are the graduates' processing skills (ability to think critically, creatively and innovatively)?

Wouldn't want to spoil a good cheerleading session with questions like those, would you?

Last week Governor Ted Strickland was in town to tell us that the Jackson school system has arrived to the point that if all Ohio schools were like Jackson, Ohio would have no need for educational reform?


And guess what we got out of The Rep's editors?

Yes, yes and yes again: SILENCE.

The governor failed to mention Jackson's 36% remediation rate when its graduates go to college and the heavens only know what employers have to spend in extra - make up for what was missed in high school - "education" dollars when these grads hit the workplace.

The SCPR has asked educators throughout Stark County (including O'Neill) about the extraordinarily high remediation rates and has gotten no meaningful answers: only a shrug of the shoulders or some nonsense like "we didn't have the college evaluative tests beforehand."

O'Neil takes a page out of a politician's book and "changed the subject when asked by the SCPR about what is being done about the high remediation rate. All she wants to talk about is the increasing rates of graduation among Stark's high schools. Why shouldn't she. Changing the subject is working. She and SEP gets cheered on by The Repository on cherry picked data that has not been examined critically as to the "real" significance to quality education occurring in Stark.

So Doctor O'Neill, if a school with a 50% graduation rate and a 70% remediation rate increases its graduation rate to 95%; what, pray-tell, would be the new remediation rate?

Since the emphasis is pushing more students out the door with degrees, wouldn't it stand to reason that the remediation rates will escalate. Maybe a little sacrificing quality for quantity might be going on?

Yours truly, in the comments sections of The Repository and perhaps in a "letter to the editor" or two used to chide former Canton mayor Janet Creighton for functioning mainly as a cheerleader in her role as Canton's chief executive.

But for Creighton there was nothing else to do.

Stark County's leadership infrastructure has evaporated with the loss of Canton's industrial base.

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce sat and watched and wringed their hands. The chamber is the only game in town as a specific attempt to rebuild Stark's lost leadership capability. But yours truly suspects its curriculum and regimen is not nearly tough enough. Not everyone who engages the program should be able to get through it. And, for the ones who do, there ought to be an accountability-esque report on the chamber's website detailing how the leadership school experience enabled specifically identified graduates to produce measurable results for Stark County.

Back to The Repository Editorial Board.

If Canton had a newspaper with aggressive, thoughtful, reflective, penetrating and a "no nonsense" public accountability qualities about its editorial board, there would be reason to be cheered about the future of Stark.

But the opposite is true.

The Rep appears to be in death throes. The folks at 500 South Market Avenue appear to be just trying to get from day-to-day. Just talk to the everyday Rep employee. Despair abounds everywhere.

Except that is with the editorial board.

Like the cheerleaders for the bottom dwelling team, they will cheer on until the bitter end.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


If there ever was a sure sign Ted Strickland is in for the fight of his political life, all doubt is removed with his "kickoff political barn - err school storming trip to various school districts in Ohio to make the case that he and his administration is making progress on his promise to "Turnaround Ohio" made to Ohio voters in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

Reforming Ohio's education infrastructure is the key to his "turnaround" promise.

Strickland, you will recall, said early on in his administration that he would be a "failed governor" if he failed to reform education in Ohio.

Undoubtedly, his political operatives say that he is making headway.

But is he?

Strickland came to Stark County on Friday to Jackson Township. What he had to say makes one wonder if Strickland has read his own Ohio Board of Regent's report on how ill-prepared Jackson graduates are for college?

Jackson, Lake and North Canton are the best we have in Stark and they all share similar numbers on the need for remediation.

A keystone to the Strickland Ohio economic development plan is having high school graduates ready for college (for those who choose to attend) or ready for the workforce.

The SCPR compared Jackson to Hudson High School (Summit County). And sorry to say the results were not even close.

Hudson is the creme-de-la-creme but it has always been no matter what the folks in Columbus do or don't do.

Recently, Jackson has passed a "survive these times" levy after failure of larger levies which might have enabled Jackson administrators and faculty to cut into the gulf between the Jackson and Hudson remediation rates.

But Stark Countians would not approve the higher levies.

So the only solution will have to be with the state of Ohio or more well off districts like Hudson will continue to outshine Stark County's 17 school districts.

And get this.

Stark Taxpayers get to pay twice for what were are not getting from Stark's high schools. If those students go to either Kent - Stark or Stark State and our grads are required to take remediation course; they get no credit and still have to pay tuition and buy books for these non-credit towards graduation course.

If they attend college outside of Stark, then the rest of Ohio's taxpayers help Stark Countians with the "double taxation" as we do them.

There are many more costs to Stark's, Ohio's and the nation's economies for the high remediation rate.

Employers who get "unprepared" recently graduated from high schools have to make up for the deficiencies in basic educational skills (reading, writing and math) by purchasing technology which does basic human skills and thereby masks the graduates lack of fundamental skills. Moreover, these employers may have to provide post high school training that is general and not job specific just to get the newly high school graduated employee to the point where they can cope with job specific add-on skills.

So employers all too often end up with a "surcharge tax" of sorts because of the failures of Stark's high schools.

And there are other costs that the SCRP will be holding up to Stark County educational officials and the governor as huge barriers to turning around Stark's and Ohio's economy.

When Strickland first appeared on the gubernatorial political scene, yours truly thought Strickland was different from the typical politician. However, skepticism has replaced the initial hope.

Strickland seems to buying to the politics of the likes of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his ilk which include: "spin" the failures, finger point at political opponents, revise and qualify political history/statements and above all - don't be a stand up and be accountable public official.

For Ohio and Stark County to have any chance at all to become a place for the creative, the energetic, the industrious, the imaginative, the optimistic and the forward thinking to take up residence; the bench mark of the need for remediation at college and in the workplace with have to be at the Hudson level or below statewide.

Until it is, Stark County and Ohio will continue to be the backwater of economical growth and development.

Strickland may get re-elected in 2010, but he is well on his way to being a failed governor on his self selected substantive standard - education.

If he fails, he will survive the personal put-down, but Stark County and Ohio may not!