Ohio Governor Says Schools Wanting Tax Dollars for Mentorship Program Must Partner with Faith-Based Organization December 14, 2014

Ohio Governor Says Schools Wanting Tax Dollars for Mentorship Program Must Partner with Faith-Based Organization

Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich (below) championed a mentoring program for his state that would allocate $10 million to districts and private schools. Because he’s a man committed to bettering the educational opportunities of economically disadvantaged students.

Which is why, now that the measure succeeded and was signed into law, he’s tacked on a heretofore undisclosed requirement that all mentoring programs must partner with a “faith-based” non-profit or church.

No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars.

“You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants…

Because nothing says you care about providing kids with mentors like depriving qualified mentors and mentoring programs of financial backing because they don’t have a faith-based aspect to them.

At an informational meeting last Thursday, hosted by United Way of Greater Cleveland, attendees viewed a

… recorded video [of Governor Kasich] welcoming the applicants [which] made the importance he places on faith in this effort clear.

The Good Lord has a purpose for each and every one of them (students) and you’re helping them to find it,” Kasich said on the video.

Reporter Patrick O’Donnell notes that the faith requirement was never a part of the original proposition or the governor’s efforts to promote it. The money was open to non-profits, including faith-based ones, but the partnership with religious groups was never a requirement.

What’s new is that Kasich and ODE [Ohio Department of Education] are requiring them and raising their status above other community non-profits.

Here’s how the requirement differs from previous discussion, testimony and law covering Community Connectors:

– Kasich presented the plan in his speech as a “an initiative to support the best ideas for bringing together schools, parents, communities, faith-based groups, businesses and students in mentoring efforts based on proven practices. ”

But faith-based groups — or businesses — were not presented as a required part, any more than parents or communities. See the whole speech HERE.

– As the proposal made its way through the state legislature as part of House Bill 483, State Superintendent Richard Ross did not highlight faith-based groups as a required part of applications in his testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in May.

– HB 483, as it went into law, makes faith-based organizations an option equal to “civic organizations” and business, but not a requirement.

It states: “Eligible school districts shall partner with members of the business community, civic organizations, or the faith-based community to provide sustainable career advising and mentoring services.”

– Kasich did not list faith-based organizations as a requirement when he did a ceremonial bill signing for HB 483 here in Cleveland.

– And he also did not list faith-based groups as a requirement for the money in his Nov. 3 executive order creating the advisory board, and instead only refers to “local networks of volunteers and organizations.”

– In addition, the examples Kasich listed in his State of the State speech of other mentoring programs that he would use as a model do not have a religious requirement…

Now, as Kasich is making the availability of mentoring funds contingent on inclusion of (irrelevant) faith-based elements, it might sound like his priority is not quality mentoring for disadvantaged students, but providing access for religious groups to disadvantaged students. But Buddy Harris, senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, assures us that proselytizing is not the goal.

The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor,” Harris said after the session.

“We do not forsee any proseletyzing happening between mentors and students,” Harris said. “That’s not really what we’re seeking.”

So, if I’m hearing this right, Ohio will only give the money for mentoring if a faith-based organization is involved, because they totally don’t want to force faith on kids. Which, I guess, they want us to simply take on faith — because there’s no rational reason to believe anything so absurdly contradictory.

(Image via Wikipedia)

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