Eye on Education

Former Kasich Education Advisor Bob Sommers Opens the Kimono

Office of the Governor

Bob Sommers' resignation from his post as the governor's lead education advisor was effective Jan. 31.

If only government officials were this chatty while they were still in office.

A couple weeks ago, Bob Sommers, lead education advisor to Gov. John Kasich, announced his resignation, effective Jan. 31. (He’ll be replaced by former superintendent Richard Ross.)

On Feb. 1, this interview with lead Kasich education advisor Bob Sommers ran on education pundit Rick Hess’ blog.

Sommers told Hess that, from an education policy standpoint, the failure of collective bargaining law Senate Bill 5 wasn’t a big deal:

“…There were very few things that we were looking for in changes in employment, compensation, and teacher relationships that we didn’t get [in separate legislation]. We eliminated seniority pretty much up and down the line. We got options in for performance-based pay. We got a teacher evaluation system that includes student achievement.”

A few of Sommers’ other answers:

  • The biggest Ohio education “reforms” of 2011 were removing the cap on charter schools, quadrupling the number of publicly funded private school vouchers and developing the state’s new school ranking system. (The school rankings, as we’ve reported, can be problematic… But Sommers says they’re a real conversation changer.)
  • Ohio has a huge problem with charter school sponsors’ quality. (Charter school sponsors are the organizations responsible for overseeing individual charter schools.) And our sponsors are weak, Sommers says:

    “In Michigan, where I operated before, you have universities serving as sponsors, and a university has a reputation to uphold that goes beyond the charter schools. So, they really want the charter schools that they sponsor to be good quality because they’re an extension of their larger image.”

  • And perhaps Sommers’ biggest lesson learned?:

    “The speed with which reform is possible at a state level is slower than I had hoped.”

You can read the full interview here or read other takes on the interview from former State Board of Education member Colleen Grady, former state Rep. Stephen Dyer and the Fordham Foundation’s Bianca Speranza.


  • Randydynes

    Another disaster for Bob Sommers. When will people realize he has no business in education. Look at his record and let it speak for itself!

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