Editorial roundup

The (Youngstown) Vindicator, April 24

The courageous decision by Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction, to forgo $22 million in federal funding for the expansion of charter schools in Ohio is significant on several levels. …

DeMaria’s decision not to accept the entire $71 million federal grant for charter schools was made public (April 21) by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. …

The Plain Dealer explained that grants are available only to those schools whose “sponsors” have one of the top two ratings of “exemplary” or “effective.”

And here’s the reality check for the charter-school industry: Only five of the more than 60 sponsors in Ohio earned “effective” ratings, and none was rated “exemplary” in the fall. The vast majority was rated as “ineffective” or worse, The Plain Dealer reported.

The decision by DeMaria not to accept the entire $71 million from the federal government is also significant because it proves that Republicans in state government have put ideology before good public policy in their support of charters.

As we have argued ad nauseam in this space, billions of dollars have been spent on this failed experiment in education. …

DeMaria’s decision to accept just $49 million from Washington should serve as a teachable moment for Republicans in Columbus who have long shrugged off the reality that is the charter-school industry.

The state superintendent of public instruction is to be commended for his honest appraisal of the so-called community schools.

Online: http://bit.ly/2puJ6ff

The Columbus Dispatch, April 30

Nothing illustrates politicians’ contempt for average Ohioans more clearly than the shape of the state’s 16 congressional districts.

Ohio’s congressional map is among the most blatantly gerrymandered in the nation, drawn to ensure that not one of the districts is politically competitive.

The districts cynically split counties, cities, villages, townships and neighborhoods. The current map splits county boundaries 54 times. Seven counties are split among three or more congressional districts.

The districts twist and turn like snakes and other creatures …

… Ohioans deserve congressional districts that respect them and the communities in which they live.

Contorted, meandering districts, in Ohio and other states, are a prime reason congressional politics are poisonous — as partisan and ugly as ever in modern times. They encourage extremism, discourage bipartisanship and sabotage efforts to find common ground.

Fortunately, Ohioans soon might have an opportunity to support a statewide ballot issue to end gerrymandering in our state.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations, called Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, has submitted a plan to the Ohio attorney general to place an issue on the statewide ballot in November 2017 or November 2018. …

The proposed plan would take the map-drawing job away from the state legislature and give it to the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission. The commission would be required to draw districts that are compact, do not favor or disfavor any political party, and keep communities together as much as possible.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio, one of the coalition partners, has been working doggedly on this issue for four decades, through Democratic and Republican administrations and legislatures. The league deserves widespread support for its steadfast efforts to add Ohio to the ranks of states putting citizen interests ahead of power politics.

Details of the proposed amendment, and information on getting involved, can be found at http://fairdistrictsohio.org/ …

Ohioans of every political stripe should embrace this opportunity to slay the gerrymander and end rigged elections.

Online: http://bit.ly/2puHVwv