House Democratic representatives today sent a letter to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Gary Mohr calling for the state to terminate its contract with the state’s privately-run prison food service staffing company, Aramark, marking at least the fifth time lawmakers have asked the state to take control of privatized food service operations.
“The irrefutable and troubling facts against Aramark reaffirms why there was such strong initial opposition, both in the legislature and the general public, to privatizing any part of our prison system,” said Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria). “With the ninety-day notice requirement in the contract, I am calling on the administration to terminate its relationship with Aramark and start 2015 off on the right foot by having the state take full control of our prisons again.”
Over 100 Aramark employees have been banned from Ohio prisons since the first year of the privatization due to problems ranging from sexual abuse and drug smuggling to inappropriate relationships with inmates, according to a Dayton Daily News investigation. Aramark has also racked up state contract violations, including unsafe food conditions, staffing shortfalls and food shortages.
“Maybe they cut costs, but they cut corners to get there and that’s not what Ohioans deserve or expect,” said Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) a member of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC). “It’s time for the state to take control of operations at our state prisons and ensure that there is security and accountability in the way our state does business.”
Aramark has been fined twice by the state for violating safety and security requirements at Ohio prisons, but the Kasich Administration has dodged previous calls for the termination of Aramark’s contract. Instead, the state will use some of the fines to hold additional training fo
Today, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) highlighted recent findings that reveal a significant funding gap between Toledo City Schools (TCS) and area charter schools. These findings were compiled for the first time in a new website—KnowYourCharter.com. The site compares fiscal and performance information from public schools and traditional charter schools using detailed reports of state data.
“Ohio’s funding model has put our traditional public school students and teachers at a major disadvantage,” said Rep. Fedor. “And when charter schools siphon funds from public schools, our students have even fewer resources. It’s clear that our students are lacking equal access to educational opportunities. Ohio’s funding model and charter school accountability need to be addressed immediately—our students’ success depends on it.”
According to the data, on average, Toledo charter schools receive $8,770 per student while TCS students receive only $6,497. Even with the additional funding, most area charter schools continue to underperform, with more than half earning a “D” or “F” rating on the state’s report card.
In total, over $73 million in state aid was deducted from TCS last year and transferred to area charter schools.
“While these charter schools are underperforming, they are also spending twice the amount as TCS on administrative costs. It really calls into question where our state’s educational priorities lie,” added Rep. Fedor.
KnowYourCharter.com was created by the Ohio Education Association and progressive think tank Innovation Ohio in an effort to increase financial transparency and accountability. Data used on the website is taken directly from the Ohio Department of Education and compares academic performance among traditional public schools and charter schools.
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) highlighted recent findings that show significant funding educational quality gaps between Youngstown City Schools (YCS) and area charter schools. These findings were compiled for the first time in a new website—KnowYourCharter.com. The site compares metrics from public schools and traditional charter schools using detailed state reports.
“As the state spends more and more taxpayer dollars on charter schools, it’s clear that the ‘experiment’ of funding charters is now routine and warrants further public and government scrutiny,” said Rep. Hagan. “This is a powerful accountability and transparency tool for parents and state’s education leaders.”
During the 2012-2013 school year, over $22 million in local tax dollars were siphoned from city schools and redirected to charter schools. Thirteen of those nineteen charter schools graded by the state received a “D” or “F” on their state report card. YCS is rated a “D.”
At least six of the schools received over $10,000 in state funding per pupil. YCS’s state share per pupil is roughly $8,200.
“It is really startling to see how some of the worst performing schools are receiving more money from the state than our public schools. I think it’s clear from these numbers that we need to refocus back on improving our children’s public schools,” added Rep. Hagan.
KnowYourCharter.com was created by the Ohio Education Association and progressive think tank Innovation Ohio in an effort to increase financial transparency and accountability. Data used on the website is taken from the Ohio Department of Education and compares academic performance among traditional public schools and charter schools.
State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma) today introduced House Bill 628 to authorize the state’s Inspector General (IG) to investigate the Attorney General’s (AG) office for any wrongful acts or omissions following allegations of sexual harassment in the office.
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today announced that the Polaris Project, a leading organization in the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery, released its 2014 state ratings on human trafficking laws.
Ohio received 9 out of 12 total points and now ranks in the uppermost tier with 39 other states. To qualify for this top ranking, a state must have enacted significant laws to combat human trafficking.
“Four years ago when the Polaris Project began rating states based on anti-trafficking laws, Ohio received only 4 out of 12 points,” said Rep. Fedor. “Our state has come a long way in improving efforts to eradicate human trafficking, but there is still much work to be done. I will not waver in the fight to strengthen Ohio’s anti-human trafficking laws, and I am appreciative of my colleagues who continue to support anti-trafficking initiatives.”
The Polaris Project recently released its 4th annual ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on ten categories of laws critical to a basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, including punishing johns and supporting survivors. The Polaris Project has helped contribute to the passage of over 100 anti-trafficking laws in states across the country.
For the past eight years, Rep. Fedor has been a leading advocate in the fight against human trafficking. Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed Rep. Fedor’s End Demand Act, a bill aimed at tackling the black market-driven demand for purchasing commercial sex with a minor. Two years prior, her bill to provide protections to victims of trafficking, the Safe Harbor Act, was also signed into law.
Ohio State Representative and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement in response to US Department of Justice’s decision to investigate the fatal shooting of 21-year-old John Crawford in a Dayton-area Walmart:
“Many African Americans are concerned about how this case was handled and the lack of transparency from the beginning. I applaud and fully support the US Justice Department’s decision to investigate the fatal shooting of 21-year-old John Crawford III.
“What has wrongly been described today as a ‘perfect storm of circumstances’ has actually been a nightmare for the Crawford family and the citizens of Ohio.
“I am hopeful the Justice Department can provide answers to Mr. Crawford’s family and the public.”
State Reps. Mike Sheehy (D-Oregon) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) announced today the introduction of legislation to require the monitoring of the harmful toxin microcystin in Ohio’s public water systems.
The state jobs report released today showed that the number of unemployed Ohioans grew to 324,000 people, an increase of 1,000 from last month. The unemployment rate remained unchanged, while the state created 200 jobs. In response, State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) released the following statement:
“Our state’s economic development entity is hoarding hundreds of millions of dollars while Ohio’s job growth rate continues to trail the national average. Gov. Kasich promised Ohioans a lot with the privatization of state economic development, but delivered no new results. JobsOhio looks more and more like a failing, fantasy playground of an unsuccessful businessman rather than an economic development powerhouse.”
According to limited data provided by the entity, since its inception JobsOhio has spent $22,219,000 on economic development—roughly 7.8% of the total liquor profits they've received.
Gov. Kasich’s $10 million pledge to the RNC on behalf of JobsOhio would be the largest single economic development investment to date—larger than the total of any single loan or grant program.
The state jobs report released today showed that the number of unemployed Ohioans grew to 324,000 people, an increase of 1,000 from last month. The unemployment rate remained unchanged, while the state created 200 jobs. In response, State Representative and House Education Committee member Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) released the following statement:
“This month’s jobs numbers reflect an economy that remains stuck in neutral. While the Governor continues to rely on his so-called economic development agency, the results continue to disappoint. Instead, the state must reverse the historic cuts made to local schools and invest more time and money into establishing an educated workforce. Educational attainment is crucial to putting Ohio’s economy back on track, and Ohio’s workforce will never flourish if we maintain our status as one of the least-educated states in the nation.”