I get a lot of emails on Issue Two in Ohio – thank you vigilant Ohio readers and thank you John Cole for letting us have a turn at the microphone- 35 days to go.
I’m just going to lay this out there, and you may take from it what you will.
Officials of Bowling Green State University played a leading part in writing the section of Senate Bill 5 that bars university professors from collective bargaining, letters and emails exchanged between officials earlier this year and obtained by The Blade appear to show.
The university’s zeal to exclude professors from collective-bargaining eligibility in Ohio came about half a year after the faculty at BGSU voted to be represented in bargaining by the American Association of University Professors union, over the opposition of the college administration.
The bill, which curtails public employees’ rights to bargain in Ohio, is on hold pending a referendum set for Nov. 8
An email appears to show that Sean FitzGerald, BGSU’s general counsel, came up with the language for the section of S.B. 5 that identifies professors as management employees. A Feb. 25 email from the Inter-University council’s vice president of government relations, Mike Suver, attributes the amendment to Mr. FitzGerald.
He said to suggest that the university’s aggressive effort to repeal collective bargaining was retaliation for the BGSU’s vote in October for union representation was a “harsh” accusation. “I don’t agree with that,” Mr. FitzGerald said.
And now we’re getting charter universities, apparently:
Since the arrival of the Kasich administration, Ohioans have come to clearly understand the state leadership’s agenda for change. From reining in collective bargaining with government workers to leasing state assets to taking public initiatives private, the status quo is being vigorously shaken. In that environment, would it be any surprise that a similar drive should also surface in Ohio’s educational sector?
Regents Chancellor Jim Petro got into the act last week when he unveiled his Enterprise University plan, an effort with noble intentions that would be deployed with a carrot and a stick. The program would, in essence, attempt to free state universities from red tape, give them freedom from some burdensome state oversight and allow them greater independence.
“Enterprise University” sounds like it came right out of the Mackinac Center, and my general rule is anyone who feels the need to announce they have “noble intentions” or uses the weasel phrase “in essence” should be immediately confronted with specific questions.
Here’s the other side:
In the past few weeks, Gov. John Kasich, Chancellor Jim Petro, Inter-University Council President Bruce Johnson and several public-university presidents have touted the idea of shifting Ohio’s public university system to a charter university system. They describe the charter-university idea as a simple one: Public universities would receive less money in state subsidies in return for less state government regulation.
This “flexibility” will then lead to cures for all of our higher-education ills. This is not an accurate portrayal of the potentially dramatic and dangerous turn the charter university idea would be for Ohio’s citizens. Rather, it would be another taxpayer-funded privatization scheme that will ultimately hurt Ohio’s students and future economic growth.
If we truly value public education, instead of a publicly-funded, for-profit system that calls itself “public”, I think this bears watching.