Lt. Gov Husted Confronted With His Own Scandal
From David Pepper's 10/9/23 Pepperspectives
The official most responsible for one of Ohio’s largest scandals was asked directly about that scandal.
And boy does he spew lies as a result!
The backdrop: The Governor and Lt. Gov of Ohio are trying to strip power from the state’s school board, which has a number of representatives elected directly by the people within districts, as well as appointees. Some of the school board members have filed suit to stop the power grab.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has been doing a bizarre media tour defending the power grab while attacking the school board. And if you know anything about Husted’s history with education “policy” in Ohio, his active presence here is a sign that something not good is afoot.
Well, Jon agreed to appear on “The State of Ohio” weekly public affairs show, and long-time host Karen Kasler emerged as the first reporter thus far to tie what Husted is trying to do now back to the infamous scandal he directly brought to Ohio not that long ago:
TO START, here’s the question (at least until Husted cuts Kasler off) — (note: when she says ECOT, she’s referring to the “Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow,” a for-profit company and so-called “virtual school” that grew enormous when Ohio GOP politicians kept shoveling money its way (out of public school budgets) even though it had the highest drop-out rate in the nation; it also turned out to be cooking the books—claiming money for students it could not prove attended—leading to an FBI investigation and efforts to claw back the lost millions)
"Is this effort to get rid of independent oversight of education kind of like what happened with ECOT? Should we be worried about another disaster like ECOT if you take away..." [Husted interrupts]
What follows after her question is a rambling monologue about accountability, which may fool those who don’t know the history or the details (something career politicians like Husted count on).
But for those who do know that history, the answer is gobsmacking. And the dishonesty of it (you’d never know from his answer that Husted himself was the Ohio politician most directly tied to ECOT) only confirms how dangerous it would be to put this guy (who’s running for Governor) in charge of education policy with no transparency or checks and balances.
Let me give some examples:
FIRST, the gist of this answer is that if there had only been “stringent oversight” over schools/scams like ECOT, there wouldn’t have been a problem:
Hmmm, Jon, you don’t say! But you may not be the best guy to remind us of this.
You see, at the very time these for-profit schools were exploding in Ohio, there was an office providing oversight. In fact, it was right there in its name—it was called the Legislative Office of Education Oversight, and it was warning Ohio about the risks of these new e-schools. Risks financially and risks to education.
But rather than responding to those warnings, the LOEO itself—the one providing the oversight Husted says would've stopped ECOT—was eliminated!
By….you guessed it….Jon Husted. When he was Speaker of the House.
So it turns out the guy saying that the scandal wouldn’t have happened if there’d been stringent oversight is the one who got rid of that stringent oversight as it was happening!
SECOND, Husted tries to blame the ECOT scandal on the very Department of Education and school board he’s now trying to eliminate and seize power from.
He said those two entities couldn’t “agree” on what to do, which is why there was no accountability.
Want the truth?
The Department of Education actually “tried to persuade lawmakers to put online charter school regulations into the bill.” And the school board also pushed forth e-school regulations.
So both actually AGREED more oversight was needed. And regulations.
Who killed the efforts of both bodies to add these tighter regulations and oversight?
You got it…Husted and the legislature. Again!
So yes, he’s blaming these bodies for the lack of oversight—when, in fact, they pushed for it and HE said no.
THIRD, in the interview, Husted insists that if Governors (presumably DeWine, and he, as he runs for Governor) had been in charge, ECOT “would’ve never happened.”
Ironically, you only have to listen to ECOT itself to gauge how false this statement is.
Wouldn’t you know it? For all his hard work on their behalf, ECOT bestowed Husted with their first honorary degree (he also received $10,000s from the guy who cooked up the scam). And when they gave him that degree, they said: “Without Speaker Jon Husted ... the ECOT revolution in e-learning in Ohio may have ended.”
So the truth is, to use Husted’s own words, without HIS actions, ECOT “would never have happened.” And ECOT would know!
BOTTOM LINE: what DeWine and Husted are doing is not only attempting to shift power from elected officials and a board that meets publicly to a state bureaucracy that will operate behind closed doors.
It’s not only an end run around the Ohio Constitution, which created the elected school board and Department of Education precisely to provide separation from the Governor and politicians like Husted. (By the way, the arrangement was working just fine up until 2010, when Ohio was ranked in the top 5 in the nation in the quality of its schools).
No…Jon Husted’s dishonest interview is a needed reminder that it’s even more than those two things.
This is a power grab BY the very people who brought us ECOT, FROM some of the very entities who TRIED to bring oversight to ECOT and other dollar-driven ideas, but were stopped BY Husted.
Husted’s dishonest effort to blame the very people who tried to stop HIM from doing all the damage HE caused is as gobsmacking as it gets.
And his move to grab power from those entities and place it behind closed doors he controls should worry us all, as should the lies he told all of Ohio Sunday.
Click the pbs.org button to watch the Husted interview on the Oct. 6 episode of The State Of Ohio