It’s interesting how much can change in two years. In 2012, State Senator Nina Turner received the School Choice Ohio Courage Award. In her acceptance speech she emphasized the need for education to be a non partisan issue and that Republicans and Democrats should unite together and form a “Party of the Right Thing” when it comes to education. She also mentioned the importance of vouchers in the Cleveland Municipal School District
“Choice is something that God Almighty has given us as human beings…It is absolutely unconscionable to have over 55% of Cleveland’s children in schools that are either in academic watch or academic emergency. We have a moral crisis on our hands.”
Choice is an imperative opportunity to children who find themselves trapped in failing schools like those in Turner’s home turf of Cleveland where she was the Executive Director of Government Affairs for the district. It allows a way out and path upward to better educational and social opportunities.
In 2012 Senator Turner came under fire from the Ohio Federation of Teachers for her support of School Choice Vouchers.
“They are pretending in public like they want to play fair, but behind the scenes they are getting their members all stirred up,” said Turner, of Cleveland. “I’ve received several calls into my office, threats into my office, saying ‘we’re not going to fund your campaigns, we’re going to run people against you.”
Senator Turner received a $2000 campaign donation from the OFT in July of 2010. She didn’t receive another contribution from them until April of 2013. The OFT contributed $5,000 to Senator Turner’s campaign in December of 2013 and March and June of 2014. That is a significant change in course after having tension in 2012. In less than eight months, Nina Turner’s campaign coffers added over $30,000 from teachers unions. The Ohio Federation of Teachers also endorsed Senator Turner’s campaign for Secretary of State.
Recently Ohio General Assembly passed two bills dealing with the expansion of school choice. HB 483 will significantly increase the funding of the Cleveland Scholarship Program. And HB 487 will allow students enrolled in a school serving any of the grades 9-12 with a poor graduation rate to become eligible for an EdChoice Scholarship. Previous language specified only buildings serving grades 10-12. This bill will allow more than 30 poor performing high schools to dodge eligibility.
Senator Turner voted no on both of these bills. Why has she abandoned those children she fought for just two years earlier? While these bills are large in scope, there is no record of her speaking out in favor of the school choice portions of the bills. While she was previously a champion on this topic, her current silence is recognized. Has Senator Turner left the “Party of the Right Thing.”