State Board of Education President Debe Terhar apparently doesn’t have the decency or good sense to resign. So it falls to Gov. John Kasich to make that happen.
Nothing Ms. Terhar could do to improve the education of Ohio’s children as president, or even a member, of the state board can offset or undo the damage she has done by setting an appalling example of intolerance and ignorance.
Ms. Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, recently posted a online photo of Adolf Hitler and a bogus quote that linked the Nazi leader, responsible for the death of 6 million Jews, with President Obama’s recent call for more gun control.
The commentary, reposted from another Facebook page that includes pro-gun, anti-Obama, and racist posts, stated: “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
Hitler almost certainly never said that. He supported laws loosening controls on guns — except for non-Aryans and political dissidents, millions of whom ultimately died in his concentration camps.
A student who cited, as fact, unsubstantiated quotes from a dubious Web site probably would get a failing grade. Yet without even a cursory effort at verification, one of the state’s highest education officials cited a phony quote as part of a historical look at gun control.
Her argument that the posting was private, meant for her Facebook friends only, is laughable. Today, a private Internet posting is an oxymoron, especially for public officials.
No one disputes Ms. Terhar’s constitutional right to post whatever she wants on her Facebook page. But she must also face the consequences. Including one of history’s most insidious racists and mass murderers in routine policy debates is never appropriate or illuminating, and always offensive.
Ms. Terhar’s supporters note that in 2011, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), cited Hitler in his discussion of Republican efforts to limit collective bargaining for public employees. Those statements were also inexcusable, but at least he had the sense to apologize afterwards.
So far, Ms. Terhar hasn’t done so; she merely has said that she regrets the “consequences of carelessly sharing that picture” and that she plans to use social media more carefully. She has shut down her Facebook page.
Governor Kasich notes that Ms. Terhar is an elected official on an independent state body. But that argument ignores his considerable unofficial influence over the board and, specifically, the part he played in its electing her president.
For the good of the state, Ms. Terhar must step down. If she does not do so voluntarily, Mr. Kasich should make it happen. Her litany of excuses only confirms that she is ill-equipped to lead Ohio’s efforts to educate its children.
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