Two Ohio state Board of Education members have been named members of Mitt Romney campaign committees. Their appointments are a sign of the importance of Ohio and, perhaps to a lesser extent, education to the Romney campaign.
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar is a member of the National Educators for Romney coalition. The group “will lead an effort to coordinate support for Mitt Romney and his bold education reforms that will put students first,” the campaign says.
That group will “help facilitate dialogue between Mitt Romney and respected leaders who provide unique expertise, experience and knowledge on a range of issues impacting black American communities,” the campaign says.
Terhar is an elected board member from Cincinnati. She describes herself as “an early participant in the Tea Party Movement.” Jackson was appointed by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year and is running for an elected seat on the state board. Jackson describes himself as a conservative Republican.
Jackson says his role on the Romney campaign advisory group is to “give insights into areas that are affecting the African American community” and “to make sure that our voice is being heard in the Republican party.”
“It’s not just about education,” he says. “It’s also about access to money and finance… and fixing areas of the community where we don’t feel safe.”
But since Jackson does sit on the state Board of Education, we asked him what about Romney’s education platform he thought would benefit Ohio. He cites Romney’s focus on “school choice,” closing the achievement gap and “holding teachers accountable.”
“I think school choice is vital for kids who are struggling in schools that aren’t serving them properly,” Jackson says.
(The Obama administration has also encouraged states to expand opportunities for high-quality charter schools, focus on closing the achievement gap and evaluate teachers based in part on student performance.
But Romney’s education policy proposals around school choice, in particular, go farther than Obama’s. Romney would allow federal funds for low-income and special-education students to follow students to any public or private school, for example, and require states to eliminate caps on the number of charter and digital schools.)
We left a message for Terhar Friday about her appointment to the National Educators for Romney coalition and will update this story once we hear back from her.
The coalition includes two public-school teachers and one private-school teacher among its 15 members. It’s chaired by Rod Paige, who served as Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush.
A statement from the Romney campaign quotes him saying:
“I am lucky to have these great leaders in education on my team. Together, we will reform our education system to ensure that the chance of a child’s success is not dictated by the circumstances of his or her birth.”