Having given you fair warning, I want to review the solid reporting of Carol Biliczky in the Beacon Journal that led the reader to a small religion-based private school in Circleville that is doing quite well, thank you, as the state fills the school's collection plates with public dollars. Its formal name, Ohio Christian University, befits its enterprising spirit in selling its sectarian product to students in public high schools with considerable help from the state treasury.
Not only that, the school's president, Mark Smith, has what is essentially a room with a view as a member of the Ohio Department of Education board, where he is joined by C. Todd Jones, a lobbyist for OCU as well as some 50 private Ohio colleges. Smith, Biliczky wrote, is no stranger to politics. He runs Ohio Faith & Freedom, which strongly supported Mitt Romney in 2012. (Freedom to do what?)
Remember folks: We're talking about a state board that presumably oversees public education policy while Smith and Jones look after their own interests back at the private schools. (There used to be a third one: Bryan Williams, who, alas, resigned recently after his efforts as a lobbyist for a non-union contractor group that also owned a charter school.)
OCU's links to the public money are really quite simple. Public school students can enroll in OCU's classes, either on line or by other means and receive high school or college credit. As Biliczky wrote:
"The 30 general education courses in Ohio Christian University's Trailblazers Academy have many strong Christian themes, according to course descriptions on the university's website.
""General Psychology', for example, "will reflect a holistic Christ-centered biblically integrated education in the Wesleyan tradition. 'Western Civilization II' will help students develop a Christian worldview of history."
As with many of the charter schools that are siphoning money from public education, OCU profits leaped to $27.8 million in 2012 from $10.7 million three years earlier. What's more, Biliczky wrote, its enrollment jumped from 380 students seven years ago to 3,800 today.
As Plunderbund reported, in the 2012-13 school year, charter schools received more than $829 million in taxpayer money to educate about 116,000 children, or $7,144.86 per child. At the same time, local public school districts received $5.5 billion to educate the remaining 1.7 million children., or only $3,125.30 per student.
The private religious (read: conservative) thrust into public education in Ohio has Governor Kasich's fingerprints all over it. He has packed the state board of education with appointments of charter-friendly operatives. That helps explain the fierce boldness of such special - and costly - ventures in the state today in supping at the public education table.
But even though state law forbids such use of public funds, it seems the governor believes it's the Christian thing to do.